When a cricket team’s top player retires, it is in many cases only a temporary setback that does not take too long to recover from.
But when a team’s best opening bowler, opening batsman, former captain and most experienced player calls a halt within the span of a few months, the building process is going to take much longer.
Fortunately, the South African T20 women’s team has stalwarts such as the new captain, Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Marizanne Kapp and Suné Luus to fall back on, but their workload will have to be managed very well in the absence of Shabnim Ismail, Lizelle Lee , Dané van Niekerk and Mignon du Preez.
The Proteas, who were beaten by Australia in the final of the World Cup at Newlands in February this year, must reshuffle their cards without a number of their stalwarts.
It stood out like a sore eye when the Proteas lost the first T20 match of their tour of Pakistan with the last ball on Friday evening in Karachi, Pakistan. After South Africa scored 150/3 in 20 overs, the table was set for victory, especially after Brits (78) and Wolvaardt (44) laid the foundation for victory with an opening partnership of 85 runs.
After Kapp (19) added a further partnership of 58 runs from just 37 deliveries with Brits for the second wicket, the hopes flared up even further.
It was Brits’ eighth fifty which she smashed from just 44 balls. Her full innings lasted 64 deliveries and she hit nine fours and one six. Wolvaardt braved 38 balls and hit six fours in her innings.
But the home team’s Bismah Maroof (37), Sidra Ameen (35) and Aliya Riaz (28) sealed the thrilling match with the last ball as Pakistan reached 151/5.
Apart from Kapp (1/25), Nonkululeko Mlaba (0/25), Ayabonga Khaka (0/27), Masabata Klaas (0/24), Nadine de Klerk (0/32) and Delmi Tucker (0/11) were wicketless .
Moreover, four of the five Pakistani batsmen were run out in the mad chase after victory.
The Proteas suffered no lasting injuries, but a few bowling gaps were exposed in strange conditions on a mirror-like surface.