Twelve years ago, Tazmin Brits was enduring the lowest point in her life, a gruesome car accident had cost her a chance to represent South Africa at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. That was also the end of her javelin career, one that had a huge promise after her gold at the 2007 World Youth Championship, with her tattoo screaming it.
Now, she’s already representing her country on the world stage – the Women’s T20 World Cup – and her heroics, a 55-ball 68 took them over the line against England. Even if you didn’t know the back story, you would have somehow in the four hours of riveting cricketing action come to realise that Brits was an out and out athlete. Four stunning catches would have just sealed the deal.
“Would you believe it, the Newlands has gone berserk, the decibels have increased in amplitude. Oh, what are we witnessing, this is Sune Luus and her South African team, and they are in the final," went the commentators.
The emotions that were running high in Newlands, and the crowd was experiencing something that they hadn’t in a long time. Never before had the Proteas been on this stage – World Cup final – and this couldn’t have come at a better place, where the crowd went raucous.
After losing the very first game against Sri Lanka, a rather close one, morale was at an all-time low in the South African camp. From thereon to reach a final against Australia, it would have taken one heck of an effort. When the national anthem was playing at the Newlands, Springbok’s captain Siya Kolisi was there to lift the spirits of the camp.
It wasn’t necessarily Kolisi’s words that lifted the spirits but the effect it had on the national team was telling. Luus, Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail all dreamt of lifting the coveted World Cup trophy, and they are within touching distance of turning that dream into a reality.
But up against them are Meg Lanning's Australia. A side that is a serial-winner. A side that knows how to crush all opponents' hopes. A side that has till date remained a dream for all the other teams. A side that really has dominated women's cricket for the longest time.
'Whole country against 11 g̶u̶y̶s̶ girls'
Things to watch out for
South Africa’s batting needs to step up again
Australia have the best bowling unit, with 39 wickets in the tournament averaging just 15. That’s outrageous. But for nearly 3/4th of their clash against India, the Australian bowlers were chasing the encounter, thanks to the counter-attacking partnership between Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues. So, if there is one way to win against this Australian team, it would have to be to attack their bowling unit.
South Africa, prior to the England encounter didn’t quite have a good powerplay score. Even against England, the first few overs were a struggle. So, all eyes would be on South Africa’s batting unit, which has to step up yet again, especially the openers – Brits and Laura Wolvaardt – who have scored 56.18% of their runs. Will they continue their run?
How can South Africa remove the Heal-ium?
Fun fact: Alyssa Healy has never been dismissed in the powerplay throughout the tournament. Across four innings, the right-handed Healy has scored 90 runs in the powerplay, all at a strike-rate of 128.6, which in women’s cricket is incredible. Even though everyone around her hasn't quite had a head-start, her form at the other end has allowed the others to take the backseat.
At the same time, Healy has never performed against South Africa, which comes as a big surprise with an average of just 7.75 and just scoring 31 runs. Shabnim Ismail has twice got the better of Healy in just four innings, with the right-hander averaging just 10 against the right-arm speedster. Against Chloe Tyron, the average drops to just ONE. That’s what would make it a fitting battle.
Pitch and conditions
Six out of the 11 wins here have been teams defending a total, and that’s really how Newlands has played thus far in the tournament. In fact, both the semi-final at the venue have been won by teams batting first. Given that it is a big final, there is a strong chance that both teams would want to bat first.
The average batting score in the first innings is 152. But across both the semi-final, a score of at least 165 has been a safe score. Given that it is the final, both teams would want to score 170. Spinners have an edge at the venue, with 57 wickets in comparison to the 52 taken by pacers. There’s a strong chance that Australia could bring back Alana King.
- Twice in this year’s competition, Tazmin Brits has been undone by an off-spinner, with her average just being 9.5 against that bowling type. In fact, in her overall career as well, Brits has struggled against that bowling type (13 wickets), which will bring Ashleigh Gardner into the picture. Gardner is the third best bowler in the competition, with nine wickets, averaging just 11.7. It could be an important battle.
- In this tournament, pace has been one of the biggest strengths for the Australian batters, who have scored runs at a strike-rate of 134.6. In just 39.3 overs, the Australian team have scored 319 runs.South Africa are a team that has heavily relied on their pace unit thus far in the competition. With Chloe Tyron the only spin option, it would be interesting on how they approach this.
Jess Jonassen did play against India, and made an impact but expect the management to switch things around to bring back Alana King, given South Africa’s troubles against spin.
Australia: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Grace Harris, Georgia Wareham, Alana King, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown
South Africa are most likely to remain unchanged, after their stunning win against England the other night. Given there is no late injuries in the camp, they will go out with an eye on the trophy
South Africa Probable XI: Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus (c), Chloe Tryon, Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabhonga Khaka, Nonkululeko Mlaba