Former South African skipper Dane van Niekrek has decided to call it a day from international cricket after amid uncertainty of her future with the South African national cricket team. Niekrek has not played international cricket since September 2021 and even though she hoped to make a comeback for the 2023 T20 World Cup, the fitness standards set by Cricket South Africa ruled her out of the squad.
"It is with great sadness that I announce my retirement from international cricket," Dane van Niekerk said in a statement issued by CSA. "It has been the greatest honour to lead and represent my country. I am incredibly blessed to have led the team through its transformative years. There is no doubt that the women's game is in an exciting space and looking forward to seeing this beautiful game that I love grow.
"I look back on my career fondly and have made incredible memories and want to thank Cricket South Africa and all other stakeholders for your support. Often the journey can be lonely, painful, and emotional, but would not change it for anything. I'm grateful for what this game has given me."
The news of Dane van Niekrek’s retirement was expected when her wife Marizzane Kapp, currently in India representing Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, posted photos of the player, captioning “End of an era”. Now in the absence of Niekrek, Sune Luus, who led South Africa to a historic first-ever World Cup final, has been confirmed as van Niekerk's permanent successor ahead of the tournament.
"My wife, Marizanne, you have stood by my side since day one. Thank you for putting up with me and all that came with it, but yet, here you are. You are at the pinnacle of your career and it is my time to support you, the way you have supported me. I love you," van Niekerk said.
The 29-year-old enjoyed an illustrious international career for South Africa, representing her country on 194 occasions, including 107 One-Day Internationals (ODI), 86 T20 Internationals (T20Is) and a single Test match against India in 2014. Beginning her career in March 2009, the former Proteas captain recorded 2 175 runs in ODI cricket, with nine half-centuries and a career-best score of 102 against Sri Lanka, while amassing a further 1 877 runs in T20 cricket, notching up 10 fifties.
Niekrek’s career is filled with crazy highs, that saw her being third among South Africa's ODI as well as the T20I wicket-takers. She was sixth on the list of all-time run-scorers in ODIs for South Africa and only Lizelle Lee has scored more runs for South Africa in the shortest format of the game.
With the ball, the leg-spinner bagged 204 international scalps overall (138 in ODIs, 65 in T20Is and 1 in Tests), including recording-breaking figures of four for zero during the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017 against the West Indies in Leicester, England.
"We are merely custodians of this sport; I hand it over knowing I have given it my everything and that women's cricket is in a better place than when I arrived," Van Niekerk was quoted as saying in a CSA release on Thursday. "That must be the responsibility of the new group, to always make sure you are improving and making a difference. It is time for me to support the new leadership and wish them all the very best.”
Amongst van Niekerk’s other notable records, the Tshwane-born star is one of only six female cricketers to claim more than 1000 runs, 50 wickets and 50 catches in the One-Day format, while also having the fourth-best bowling strike rate (5.0) recorded in the history of Women’s ODI cricket.
Van Niekerk also led South Africa as one of the best and most-capped captains in the country’s history, walking out in 50 ODI encounters, winning 29 matches (61.22%), between 2016 and her last international appearance in September 2021. In the shorter format, van Niekerk skippered the nation to 15 victories in 30 matches (50%).