Kapp on Sydney win: ‘Proud moment for South African cricket as a whole’

Australia

Marizanne Kapp showed she is an all weather, all-conditions and all-situations match-winner yet again with a player-of-the-match performance in Sydney that took South Africa over the line against Australia for the first time in their ODI history, and she knows the significance of this result.

“It’s a proud moment,” Kapp said, “not only for me but for South African cricket as a whole. We all know we’ve never beaten Australia in a one-day game. So, to be able to perform and help my team over the line is a massive achievement for me.”

It wasn’t straightforward as South Africa’s innings was hit by a couple of rain breaks in the middle overs, after they were sent in to bat. Kapp wasn’t always comfortable but that didn’t stop her from grinding away to 75 off 87 balls, which carried the visitors to a healthy total of 229 in a shortened 45-over innings.

“At first it was okay,” she said, “but then I probably got a little bit annoyed because I was worried that the wicket might get too wet and it might make things difficult later on. I definitely felt like at the back end when I batted it got really tough, one or two balls really sprung at me especially off a length.

“I knew It was gonna be tough. In saying that, I knew Australia would have to bat on it as well. So it was something that went both ways.”

But this was Australia, a team that has sustained long-term excellence thanks to their talent and professionalism. However, this was also a team in transition. They no longer had Meg Lanning, who had led them from the front for nearly a decade. And while they still boasted a strong side, they didn’t carry that air of invincibility. There’s another side to the story though, and it’s not all that bad.

“There’s definitely a change and I’ve mentioned it previously as well,” Kapp said. “Losing someone like Lanning, you’re never going to be able to replace her, not her captaincy and I don’t think her batting as well. I remember too many games where we had Australia in trouble and she came in to bat and she saved them. So, yeah, I think everyone’s catching up a bit around the world. Even your Associate teams are picking up against your lower-ranked teams. It’s good for the women’s game. It’s a lot more challenging and, hopefully, this can continue.”

South Africa themselves are an evolving side looking to fill the void left by Shabnim Ismail, who drew curtains on a 16-year-old career last year. Apart from Kapp and Nadine de Klerk, no bowler in their side has picked up more than five wickets with an average below 30. It led to some introspection and soul-searching within the side.

“We had a [the] odd chat,” Kapp said. “I feel like, a lot of times, we don’t wanna speak straight and say it as it is, and we had that chat. We asked the whole squad to just to go to your room, look at yourself a bit and come back with [answers]. It’s always easy to say, ‘it was tough conditions or they really bowled well,’ but we also bowl well. You have to try things and you have to be positive. I feel like, today, we were a little bit better at that.”

After a thumping in Adelaide, they brought in young blood to strengthen their bowling despite the series being on the line. Nineteen-year-old Ayanda Hlubi was handed an ODI debut and 21-year-old Eliz-mari Marx came in as well. The duo repaid the team’s faith by sharing four wickets, including big guns Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner.

“I’m relieved, I’m not gonna lie.” Kapp said of the two youngsters joining the attack. “It meant I could ease off a little bit. They’re two upcoming youngsters. I love the way they bowl. I’ve seen them in the nets. It’s a big thing to come for them in their career.

“It obviously helps when you get a wicket like this to bowl on. But they’ve been been brilliant. I feel like they have massive careers ahead of them. For now, it’s big boots to fill. We all know how good Shabi is and she is missed, I’m not gonna lie, she is missed, but it’s good to see different bowlers picking up their hands.”

The conditions were tricky and South Africa managed to get over the line this time. What if it happens again in two days’ time in the series decider? Kapp not only dismissed those concerns but also welcomed the challenge.

“I think it’s probably the rain that made it so tough,” she said. “I think it’s usually a flat wicket, it’s very good for batting. It was one of those days where it got a little bit too wet and it moved around a bit. So I feel like it’ll probably be a little bit flatter the next game. But that’s cricket. Look, as an allrounder I get so annoyed when we keep on playing on these flat and low wickets. You want wickets like this where you need a little bit more skill and it brings the bowlers into the game as well.”

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