The Proteas deserve every accolade that comes their way during the ongoing Women’s Cricket World Cup tournament in England.
They have upstaged their male counterparts in more ways than one by qualifying for the semifinals of the eight-team event … with a game to spare, nogal.
Whatever the outcome of their last group match against Australia today, they are assured a place in next week’s knockout rounds, with a likely rematch with the Aussies or hosts England on the horizon.
A valuable lesson the national men’s side can take from the fairer sex’s achievements in their well-documented quest for major silverware is that the form book goes out the window as soon as these big tournaments come along.
The men’s side showed up for the recent Champions Trophy as one of the heavy favourites as the world’s No 1-ranked team in one-day internationals.
Yet they failed to qualify for the semifinals with a host of stars included in the world’s top 10 batsmen and bowlers failing to fire. In contrast, the women showed up in England rated only the world’s sixth-best side.
In fact, their ranking didn’t qualify them an outright passage into the World Cup and they had to reach the final of a qualifying tournament in India to book their ticket.
But Dane van Niekerk’s charges didn’t arrive at the showpiece to merely make up the numbers. They boxed above their weight in outclassing higher-ranked teams in the West Indies and India en route to the semifinals.
Bereft of the much higher status and full-blown professional leagues the women’s game enjoys in Australia and England, the women’s Proteas have flown under the radar to set a fine example of what true national pride looks like.
Regardless of how their World Cup ends, these women should be given a heroes’ welcome upon their return.