"Oh yeah," was my first impression when I first heard South Africa women are in the country to play the White Ferns in a limited-overs and Twenty20 cricket series.

The plan was to catch glimpses of the highlights package on TV but those thoughts vanished the minute I saw the Proteas perform.

I should have known better but part of my defence is there is zero coverage of other women's national teams unless teams are touring New Zealand or the White Ferns are in some ICC white-ball tournament.

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Logic suggests countless South African academies and structures are rolling out talent — albeit mostly males — who go on to settle in countries such as New Zealand, Australia and England before representing them so it was just a matter of time before their women's prowess was going to surface.

Sense, it seems, isn't so common after all but point rammed home now after the Proteas beat the White Ferns by seven and eight wickets to clinch the three-match 50-over series at Eden Park outer oval in Auckland.

White Ferns coach Bob Carter and skipper Sophie Devine will have the T20 World Cup next month as their focus but they'll be mindful some habits take longer to form. Photo / Photosport
White Ferns coach Bob Carter and skipper Sophie Devine will have the T20 World Cup next month as their focus but they'll be mindful some habits take longer to form. Photo / Photosport

Despite Kiwi skipper Sophie Devine championing pride in the black shirt, the final one-day encounter at Seddon Park, Hamilton, will mutate to open-wicket practice for the tourists who claimed their first victory on New Zealand soil and then clinically followed it up with a series win on Monday.

The nature of the accomplishment had similarities with India going about their business to dismantle the Black Caps on the adjacent prime real estate to the outer oval.

Not satisfied with just winning the game, Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk had echoed the sentiments of India counterpart Virat Kohli — the need to improve their bowling and fielding.

The women in green fielded superbly in the second ODI, stifling the White Ferns for parking meter change of 115 runs after Devine won the toss and boldly declared they wanted to dictate terms.

Instead the Bob Carter-coached outfit ended up committing cricketing heresy. They were caught 14 overs shy of the allotted 50.

Throw in two run outs — as good a batswoman as Suzie Bates is, she has to put up her hand to accept moggies with headlights in their eyes at night cross busy roads more deftly — four bowled wickets, eight single-digit offerings and a pretty gloomy picture starts emerging.

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You shouldn't expect those sorts of mistakes on an international stage because, arguably, one would expect the domestic structure and national training programme to provide the platform to negate such fundamental errors.

"I think we just got lucky with it," Van Niekerk said post-match but we all know that's diplomacy.

Yes the ICC Women's T20 World Cup starts next month in Australia but the Proteas aren't humming because of some games of chance. They have deliberately plotted their path, T20 crown or not.

Coming from a nation which found itself in exile from sport due to its Apartheid system, the Proteas women found traction in South Africa after beating England in the 2000 World Cup to make the semifinals. The then South African Women's Cricket Association president, Colleen Roberts, had described their exposure as "pathetic", owing to a degree to a lack of sponsorship.

In 2014 the Proteas got the T20 World Cup semifinals and followed it up with another playoffs in 50-over format three years later. Take a look at players' profiles and you'll find many have experience in all three formats.

Their fielding on Tuesday brought back chuckling memories of a pint-sized Jonty Rhodes tormenting batsmen from point to gully. It made me wonder why the White Ferns can't entice former Black Cap Chris Harris from the commentary booth — with the promise of a dinner for two at a swanky restaurant — for some fielding tips.

Kiwi skipper Sophie Devine (facing left) and Suzie Bates make their point as South Africa claimed the ODI series at Eden Park outer oval in Auckland on Monday. Photo / Photosport
Kiwi skipper Sophie Devine (facing left) and Suzie Bates make their point as South Africa claimed the ODI series at Eden Park outer oval in Auckland on Monday. Photo / Photosport

New Zealanders are renowned for their umbrella-handle pick ups near the ropes and flat throws over the bails but right now the White Ferns look a shadow of that reputation.

"We've got a lot of variation in the team and that makes my life a lot easier when it comes to making those decisions ... so I'm spoilt for choices at the moment," a beaming Van Niekerk said — now that is worth noting as she went on to emphasise the need to drag Big Mo by the ponytail to keep her in their corner in Hamilton.

The way Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez are middling the ball should give bowlers sleepless nights.

How the Kiwis brought their willows from outside off stump to leave yawning gaps for Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka's inswingers to sneak through between bat/pad is disconcerting.

It shouldn't detract from the Proteas' refined, pack-mentality bowling attack. The Ferns' one is erratic, something that was painfully obvious during the preceding T20 Super Smash. Raw pace isn't going to solve it. Dot-ball mentality will create pressure.

Carter is still putting his feelers out but the only batting certainties are Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Devine , Katie Perkins and Katey Martin who brings agility and a hard-nosed presence as wicketkeeper. Fitness, by the way, should be the common denominator during selection.

Bowling remains a worry because any statistics against the Proteas in the second ODI is misleading. The batswomen weren't under any pressure to attack on account of an inferior run rate.

Said player of the match Kapp when asked if she was enjoying her first visit to New Zealand in her 11-year career: "I'm not too crazy about the wicket but, yeah, it's a beautiful country."

Enough said but she put their form down to batting, bowling and fielding coming together for the first time.

I hear a chorus of she'll be fine when the T20 World Cup comes around next month. It may well be for the only cricket team in New Zealand who have ever claimed a World Cup in any format — under captain Emily Drumm in 2000.

But while formats change in a blink of an eye — habits take longer.

Captain Dane van Niekerk (left), Mignon du Preez and Sune Luus celebrate the series win but it could have been a different mood. Photo / Photopsort
Captain Dane van Niekerk (left), Mignon du Preez and Sune Luus celebrate the series win but it could have been a different mood. Photo / Photopsort

BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

Did Devine snaffle the ball without it hitting the ground which led to Lee's dismissal for 38 runs in the second ODI?

The fielder had clearly raised her arms and shrugged her shoulders to indicate she wasn't certain.

The on-field umpires, after deliberating, went up with a "not out" verdict to third umpire Kim Cotton who ruled out, believing the ball had hit the fingers to bounce up on TV replay.

Oddly enough the replay on my screen, when magnified to hand and ball, was cropped off at the bottom of the screen.

Lee, understandably, wasn't happy as she trudged off, remonstrating with Devine on the way.

What about Martin Guptill making a brilliant catch to dismiss Kohli from a Blair Tickner delivery for 45 in the first T20?

As Guppy rolled over his two-handed grasp came apart and the ball was planted face down with one hand.

I wonder what the South Africa or India mood and reaction would have been had they lost their matches?