When Marizanne Kapp mooted the idea of becoming a professional cricketer to her mother, her greatest supporter, it did not go down well.
But remembering it was the previous decade and Cricket South Africa contracts and having their matches televised was still a long way off for our top women’s players, this should not be a surprise.
Mother Nereda Lamprecht had earlier been the one to approach the principal of Hoerskool DF Malherbe to convince him to allow her 13-year-old daughter to play boys cricket at the Port Elizabeth school.
The immense talent was obvious, but ensuring Kapp had the platform to reach her potential was another matter.
“To be able to play cricket for a living, that’s my biggest dream come true. My mother was so upset when I told her I wanted to be a professional cricketer, she said no, I must get a proper job. Well now I can take her anywhere in the world she wants to go and pay for her, so I guess it worked out in the end.
“I was a bit of a tomboy growing up and I wanted to do anything the boys were doing. My cousins used to play cricket in the streets, so I started playing with them and then I graduated to indoor cricket. Then my mother went to the principal and asked if I could join the boys team. I did everything at school and I got provincial colours for swimming, biathlon, cross-country and netball, but it was cricket that really stuck,” Kapp, who has a degree in sports management and is studying for another one in human resources, said.
Chosen by South Africa for the first time in March 2009, Kapp was still a teenager when she was given a baptism of fire by hosts Australia in the World Cup.
But she has grown into one of the best all-rounders in world cricket, chosen by the International Cricket Council for their 2017 ODI team of the year and headhunted by the Sydney Sixers for the inaugural Big Bash in 2015.
That’s the most lucrative event for women’s cricketers, their version of the IPL, and the Sixers have been the most successful team, winning the title twice and being runners-up in the other two seasons.
There is no question that the Proteas Women have been helped into the upper echelons of the world game by the arrival of the tremendously athletic Kapp.
She forms a formidable new-ball partnership with Shabnim Ismail, rated by many as the best in the world, while she is good enough with the bat to play in the top-order and she has scored South Africa’s only World Cup century.
A feisty character on the field, Kapp may seem a bit shy and withdrawn in the public eye when not playing cricket.
But she is clearly the type of person you can go to war with and is hard on herself.
She is especially eager to contribute more with the bat.
“I really want to do a bit more with the bat, I’ve been playing for the Proteas for quite a while now and the seniors need to put up their hands and take the load. The bowling is still our team’s big strength, but the batting has to improve. Batting at number three, I’d like to end more games.
“The bowling just comes more naturally for me and in ODIs you’re normally bowling first and batting second. Which is why my batting took a bit of a knock, but I want to get into it more and it’s something I can work on. I’m just waiting for the chance now because we’re playing matches every second day at the moment, whereas in the past we had a few more rest days,” Kapp says.
The Proteas, having whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in their T20 series, now take on the tourists in three ODIs in Potchefstroom next week and if Kapp plays in them all, she will be tantalisingly poised on 99 ODI caps.
Her wife, Dane van Niekerk, is the national captain and will probably get to the 100th game milestone first as she already has 98 caps.
They will join Mignon du Preez and Trisha Chetty as the only centurions.
The corridors of Cricket South Africa can be a rabbit warren of political intrigue, but one thing they are clearly getting right is stabilising and growing the women’s game.
Kapp is very appreciative of their efforts and, once her playing days are over (which will hopefully only be in a long while because she is only 29), she is determined to continue working towards the progress of South African women’s cricket.
“It’s tough but there are very good signs which show how serious CSA are in taking the women’s game forward. I wold like to give back when I’m done playing, to contribute to women’s cricket here becoming like it is in Australia,” Kapp said.