Momentum Proteas rookie Nonkululeku Mlaba admits that she was stunned by the recognition received at the 2020 Cricket South Africa (CSA) Awards that were held over the weekend.
The 20-year-old was amongst several new winners after being named International Women’s Newcomer of the Year following a strong induction to the highest stage.
A slow left-armer, she beat Anne Bosch and Nondumiso Shangase to the prize that recognises South Africa’s most promising new performer over the past 12 months.
“I’m so proud of myself for this and it shows I’ve been working hard and that hard work does pay off,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working hard, it just encourages me to continue striving.
“But I’m really happy and think I’ve done a good job to get here.”
Mlaba, who hails from the Ntuzuma township just north of Durban, featured in nine Twenty20 internationals for her country, starting with a debut against India in Surat last September and ending with the disappointing defeat to Australia in Sydney in March.
Although she claimed only three wickets in those matches, her economy rate of 6.68 was hugely impressive, especially after being used to open the bowling for her country.
She has won plenty of praise for the way she carried herself in her first year.
“The highlight for me I think was the T20 World Cup,” she explained. “If I had to pick one game then maybe it was the one against Thailand where I opened the bowling and took one for four (in four overs).
“I also enjoyed playing against Pakistan, so those were some of my best games.”
However, Mlaba reveals that things were not as easy as they eventually appeared, saying she was extremely nervous before her debut after being selected to be part of a tour to India early in the season.
“The year went so quickly,” the KwaZulu-Natal spinner adds. “It started out with me not being entirely sure if I can make it at the top level.
“I had doubts about myself because of being so new, but then thanks to the support from everyone in the set-up my confidence grew. Mignon du Preez was especially good with me and that just helped me grow and flourish. At the end I am so happy to get here.”