South Africa and Netherlands add new chapter to women’s cricket history
Fri, Jul 27, 2007 1:17 PM
A new chapter will be added to women's cricket history on Saturday when South Africa takes on the Netherlands in a four-day one-off Test in Hazelaarweg, Rotterdam.
The first-ever Test between the two teams will be followed by three ODIs in Amstelveen, Utrecht and Deventer on 2, 4 and 5 August respectively, and will form a key part of their preparations for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Lahore in November.
That event, which will also involve Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Bermuda, Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe will see the top two line-ups qualify for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup, set to take place in Australia in 2009.
South Africa last played international cricket earlier this year at home when it hosted Pakistan for five ODIs, winning 4-0 with the last match rained off. The Netherlands' last series was in August 2006 when it traveled to Dublin for two ODIs against Ireland, losing both the matches, by 78 runs and 133 runs respectively.
The two teams have met only once at international level when South Africa won by four wickets in a Women's Cricket World Cup match in Christchurch in December 2000.
On that basis the teams will have very limited knowledge of each other but with both line-ups set to meet again in Lahore, the importance of these matches is obvious.
South Africa captain Cri-Zelda Brits said her players, who have prepared for the trip by practicing at Supersport Park in Centurion, near Pretoria, are in a positive mood and are looking forward to the Netherlands tour.
"It's quite an exciting tour as most of the players have never been to the Netherlands before and will be going to unfamiliar territory. I have played some club cricket in the Netherlands, so the conditions and the opposition's strengths will not be new to me," she said.
Brits said the Lahore event remained the team's most important target but she but she emphasized that fact did not reduce the significance of other series.
"The Lahore event is definitely the most important of all, seeing that we need to qualify for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in Australia in 2009," she said.
"However, we won't downplay the importance of any other away tours. As a team we have spoken and worked long and hard on where we are and what we'd like to achieve.
"It is vital that we compete at the top level as much as possible to give ourselves exposure to that standard of cricket.
"And as for this tour, it gives us a perfect chance to see where we are in terms of world cricket and what we need to work on before the qualifiers," she added.
Brits said she is unsure what to expect from the Dutch when the two teams go head-to-head. "Yes, it's hard to tell because they haven't been such an active touring side lately," she commented.
"I am aware they have had a few withdrawals which means they have a fairly young side but we won't underestimate any international side and therefore, we are just preparing to play tough opponents, as we would at all times."
Netherlands captain Helmien Rambaldo agreed with Brits on the importance of the upcoming series as a build-up for the Qualifier.
She added that it will help her players get a look at the South Africa players and their strategies. "This series is a very important part of our preparations for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Pakistan," said Rambaldo.
"The more games we get to play before the Lahore event, the better.
"Our schedule is looking good with lots of international cricket coming up in the next few weeks both with this series against South Africa and the European Cup," said the 26-year-old who has played 21 ODIs.
"This series will also be a great opportunity to get to know the South African players and their strategies, which will be an advantage when we play against them again in Pakistan," she added.
Rambaldo's team will be playing international cricket after a gap of almost a year but she insisted her players have been playing regularly in domestic competition, with a focus among them on the international cricket to follow.
"We have been training throughout the winter season before our season started in May and the players have been playing matches weekly since then.
"There is a difference between local and international cricket and the players are aware of that. During training sessions and practice matches our mind-sets are always on international cricket.
"With lots of internationals ahead of us, we are looking forward to getting back into that scene," Rambaldo added.
Rambaldo believes South Africa will be tough opponents and she urged her team to stick to the basics.
"We see South Africa as a strong side with good results in their past series against Pakistan. Their batting line up is good with players such as (Cri-Zelda) Brits and (Johmari) Logtenberg, and both their pace bowlers and spin bowlers will try to take us on," she said.
"However, we will play hard and committed. Our focus is on the basics. If we get our basics right, we will exceed at our strengths which is what needs to be done to beat them."
The Netherlands: Helmien Rambaldo (captain), Marloes Bratt, Lotte Egging, Caroline de Fouw, Carlijn de Groot, Jolet hartenhof, Leonie Hoitink, Mandy Karnet, Maartje Koster, Marijn Nijman, Cheraldine Oudolf, Jacqueline Pashley, Denise Prins, Annemarie Tanke, Violet Wattenberg. Jawaid Burney (manager), Jim Boddé (coach), Scotty Fraser (assistant coach), Margreet Mol (physiotherapist)
South Africa: Cri-Zelda Brits (Captain), Johmari Logtenberg (vice-captain), Susan Benade; Trisha Chetty; Mignon du Preez; Lonell de Beer; Shibman Ismail; Ashlyn Kilowan; Marcia Letsoalo; Sunette Loubser; Annelie Minnie; Alicia Smith; Claire Terblanche; Daleen Terblanche.