Photo Credit: Gallo Images/ Cricket South Africa
As the Momentum Proteas prepare to embark on a new season that includes a bumper fixture list until the hosting of the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in February next year, it offers a chance for fresh faces to put their hand up for selection.
That is exactly what Six Gun Grill Western Province batting all-rounder, Delmari “Delmi” Tucker hopes to do in the 2022 / 23 campaign, as she looks to build on her recent call-ups to attend national training camps and feature for the SA Emerging side.
Uncapped Tucker attended national camps towards the end of last year in Tshwane and Gqeberha before receiving her biggest indication that she is being closely monitored by the Proteas selectors. The former pupil of Hoërskool Menlo Park – which also boasts Suné Luus as an alum – was brought in as part of the pre-tour camp ahead of the One-Day International (ODI) series against the West Indies, before going onto feature in the series’ only warm-up game.
“Being selected for the West Indies (pre-tour) camp, was massive, and actually (getting an opportunity of) playing against them in that warm-up match,” Tucker recalled.
“I have played for SA Emerging against Thailand and Zimbabwe, but that feeling when I walked on that field with some big names; Shabnim (Ismail) was there, Jay Jay (Sinalo Jafta) was there, and they have played so much. Just walking on that field with them, my heart could not stop beating and I was smiling the whole time,” she added.
Before going onto play for the Titans Ladies, the Senwes Dragons in a short stint as well as Western Province, the Pretoria-born cricketer was an avid hockey player during her teenage years, even going onto pick up provincial colours for Northerns.
With the existing similarities between using a hockey stick and playing different strokes with a bat, Tucker had a head start to becoming a quality batter once she decided to pursue a career in cricket. A batter that can also contribute with superb right-arm off-spin, no less.
“With hockey, you always have to stay low and there’s all these skills you have to do to get around people,” Tucker commented.
“In cricket now, the game has developed so much and so quickly that normal shots are not good enough anymore, so that’s how hockey has come in (handy), and when my coach taught me those shots for the first time, it was easy because I already had that.
“I am definitely glad I played hockey and did it so much that cricket and hockey just combined easily,” she continued.
During the 2021 / 22 domestic season, the 24-year-old averaged 40 with the bat to help guide Western Province (WP) to second place in the CSA Women’s Provincial One-Day Top 6, finishing with 280 runs in 10 matches, including three half-centuries. She complimented those numbers with 129 runs at an average of 64.50 as WP were crowned the CSA Women’s Provincial T20 champions.
With the ball, Tucker picked up a notable 14 wickets in 10 games in the 50-over competition, averaging 15.78 runs for every wicket as well as best figures of three for 11.
Looking ahead for the Proteas Women, their schedule includes three ODIs and three T20Is against Ireland between 03 – 17 June, a multi-format tour to England from 27 June to 25 July that also involves six white ball contests that are preceded by a hugely anticipated once-off Test.
The team will also be readying themselves for a maiden Commonwealth Games appearance in Birmingham in August this year, which will also mark the first ever inclusion of women’s cricket in the event’s history.
When asked about what it would mean to her if she were to receive an official call-up to the Proteas squad and go onto make her international debut, Tucker said:
“It would literally be a dream come true,” she stated. “It has always been at the back of my head, but I keep that to myself. If it happens, my dream would have come true.
“I made this dream with my dad one day and I said to him that if I ever walk onto that field with that jersey on, I will give the biggest smile I could ever give,” Tucker stated.
Following her participation in the recently held Proteas national training camp in Tshwane, it will be interesting to see if Tucker will make the trip for the upcoming tours, with the traveling squad that is departing for Ireland at the end of this month set to be announced next week.
Momentum Proteas National Training Camp Squad (27 Players):
Micaela Andrews (SWD), Anneke Bosch (Senwes Dragons), Nobulumko Baneti (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Tazmin Brits (Senwes Dragons), Trisha Chetty (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu- Natal Coastal), Nadine de Klerk (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Nicole de Klerk (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Annerie Dercksen (Free State), Lara Goodall (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Courtney Gounden (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Anri Grobbelaar (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Sinalo Jafta (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Leah Jones (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Masabata Klaas (Senwes Dragons), Lizelle Lee (Senwes Dragons), Tebogo Macheke (Limpopo), Elize-Mari Marx (Titans Ladies), Paulinha Mashishi (Titans Ladies), Nonkululeko Mlaba (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Imperial Lions), Tumi Sekhukhune (Imperial Lions), Nondumiso Shangase (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal) Andrie Steyn (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Chloé Tryon (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Delmi Tucker (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Faye Tunnicliffe (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Jane Winster (SWD).