Dane van Niekerk, the South Africa Women's captain, is looking forward to the upcoming tour of Windies as an opportunity for senior players to excel.
South Africa's last tour of the Caribbean islands was in 2012 and only four players – Chloe Tryon, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp and van Niekerk herself – remain in the squad from then. The tour, which begins in mid-September, will comprise of three ICC Women's Championship (IWC) one-day internationals apart from five Twenty20 Internationals.
Both teams will look to gain crucial points in the IWC to further their chances of gaining direct qualification to the ICC Women's World Cup 2021.
“I think this is going to be a tough and challenging tour,” the skipper commented. “It’s located in absolute paradise of course, you won’t get to see more beautiful places when on a cricket tour, but when it comes down to the business of cricket, the West Indies will test the athlete in you like very few places will.
The heat, the humidity, their very unique pitches, it all comes down to one package that is designed to demand a lot out of a player and it’s why I’m really looking forward to seeing what the seniors do when they are presented with this type of challenge.
“I’m going to look to them to help lead the youngsters and provide guidance in the changeroom,” she continued. “We have four players who have toured here and another handful of senior players who have played all over the world and know what it’s like to adapt to difficult conditions.
We have been blessed with an exciting group of youngsters who are salivating at just the thought of getting started and we need to bottle that energy and distribute it wisely.”
The South Africa Emerging team has produced high-quality players of the likes of Saarah Smith, Tumi Sekhukhune, Robyn Searle and Faye Tunnicliffe who have now earned places in the main team.
Van Niekerk was also optimistic about the talented younger cricketers that have cropped up in the national set up over the recent years. Such is the abundance of talent in the side, she felt selectors would have a 'good headache' trying to select the best XI.
“It’s really encouraging to see how much talent has come up in the last few years and that the CSA pipeline is developing some quality players,” she elaborated. “I’m looking forward to seeing what these girls do and the fact that each offers something different and unique to the team’s needs is even better.
"That, mixed with other young talent that we already have in Laura Wolvaardt, Riaisibe Ntozakhe and Zintle Mali is the stuff captains’ dreams are made of. It’s going to be a good headache for selectors when it comes to picking teams going forward.
“We have a lot to play for on this tour and I hope that the balance of youthful exuberance to experience will give us that ‘X-factor’ that we’re looking for because West Indies as a team in home conditions are going to be a big challenge.”