On Friday (February 24), the crowd at the Cape Town was buzzing, and the entire South African women’s team were on their knees. From the verge of elimination, South Africa pulled every string in the right manner to make it to their first-ever World Cup final across men’s and women’s cricket. It was a monumental day in South Africa’s cricketing history, and the celebration was just a teeny bit into the emotions.
The country which has suffered plenty of times in the past at the biggest stage finally got rid of that, with a march into the final, against Australia. At the post-match presentation, a visibly emotional Sune Luus called it a ‘turning point’ for sports in South Africa, and insisted that the support will only grow more vociferously in the future.
“I hope this is really a turning point for not just women's cricket in South Africa, but sport in general in South Africa, so I hope with one game to go we can keep doing that,” Luus said at the post-match presentation.
“The Newlands faithfuls turned up today, thank you guys for all your support. You guys are very special to us and it's such an honour to play in front of friends and family and you guys have all become friends and family. Thank you and see you on Sunday,” she added.
The final wasn’t one-sided. It wasn’t even South Africa’s business, with England having a foot and half into the final. But inspired bowling changes from Luus, including bringing on the likes of Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka turned the clash around.
“England played well it was a great match. I think we were out of it, in it again, out of it again and it just went in waves but I think we do have the best bowling attack in the world and I guess it was against the best batting attack against the world, I just don't know what to say,” she added.
Earlier in the day, it was the openers – Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits – who got the Proteas off to a great start. Luus insisted that the openers made the team extremely proud, with the partnership taking South Africa to 96 runs in just the 14th over.
“We kept saying to them (openers) to be brave and back themselves, they made us extremely proud and that gave us the platform for Marizanne and everyone coming in. She (Khaka) is a phenomenal bowler, one of the best in the world and I just think she just showed her class once again. It's massive, every game we play we keep making history and keep inspiring the nation,” she added.
Brits sending the Brits' packing
Brits, who scored a monumental 68 was named as the Player of the match. After a struggle early on in the innings, Brits turned her fortune around with some stunning hits, including scoring six boundaries and two sixes.
“You dream of these moments, to show up when the team wants you the most. Thank you very much to the crowd. They got behind us and this wouldn't have been possible without them. Nice to have a home crowd behind you,” Brits said at the post-match presentation.
“We needed to accelerate more in the powerplay against Bangladesh, so we did that today. I still battled a bit in the beginning. We said 140 is a minimum and 160 is what we are looking at. I wrote that down on a paper and told myself that is what I am actually gonna go for. I'm glad we got to 165.”
If you think she was done, she also came back in the second innings to pick up four crucial catches, including an acrobatic one to remove the in-form Alice Capsey.
“I still can't believe it (taking four catches). I actually said I'm on a fifer for catches. I am very happy with that. You can get it from the crowd what this (making it to the final for the first time) means to our country. Finals, here we come.”