Monday, December 5, 2022

CSA: Fearless Faye Tunnicliffe – Stand out and learn from those around you

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Six Gun Grill Western Province batter, Faye Tunnicliffe attended the latest Momentum Proteas national training camp in Gqeberha with a mission of being a part of the plans for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 taking place in South Africa between 10 – 26 February.

The 23-year old was part of the 21-player squad that was brought in for the seven-day camp that included an intense fitness assessment, as well as technical training sessions in the nets and on the field before it culminated in four intra-squad T20 matches at St George’s Park Stadium.

With her last Proteas cap coming in March 2021, Tunnicliffe is working hard to earn her spot back in the national set up, particularly in T20 cricket, and believes one will need to stand out of the pack at domestic level and play courageous cricket to represent South Africa during these exciting times.

“For me, T20 cricket has been quite a focus, especially through last season as well because there were Commonwealth Games and all of that, so I just want to execute what I have been working on, whether it is piercing gaps or hitting over the top,” the batter said during the media open day.

“It is a good opportunity to try and back yourself and back your skill, and just have fun on the field.

“The biggest thing is to stand out. To play a certain brand of cricket that you can fit into the Proteas squad because the competition has been rife, especially with the Commonwealth Games that came up, a lot of people were gunning for that, and now with the World Cup at home especially.

“The competition is rife within the domestic level and in high performance, so you really have to do something different and for me that is just playing fearless cricket and really expressing myself with the bat,” she added.

Last season, the Cape Town-born Tunnicliffe delivered an outstanding batting display in the CSA Women’s Provincial T20 Cup, top-scoring with 215 runs at an average of 71,66 and a high-score of 74* as her Western Province side clinched the 2021 / 22 title unbeaten.

WP have managed another unblemished start to their latest campaign this season, winning the first two matches in the T20 domestic competition to sit in second place, only behind the DP World Lions on net run rate.

Although domestic and international cricket are on different levels, Tunnicliffe believes performances for your provincial team remains key to helping prepare a player for when the opportunity arrives to make the step up.

“Performing at provincial level is important because if you do get that call, then you go in with confidence rather than getting a call up and being unsure of yourself.

“If you can give yourself the best opportunity to perform, then you will feel as prepared as possible and that’s where the domestic game is also becoming more competitive because you can show you can perform at the higher level,” she commented.

Along with domestic cricket, SA Emerging and SA U19 cricket also play an important role in developing players for the elite level and Tunnicliffe has had the unique experience of being involved in both set ups recently, working with a lot of the junior players during the Emerging T20 series against Zimbabwe in August.

She also learnt a thing or two from the rising stars of South African women’s cricket.

“It is really refreshing actually, to see a group of girls so passionate about cricket, and who are so keen to learn,” she said.

“I mean questions that you got asked years ago but now they are asking those again, such as ‘What is your favourite cricket shot?’ and it’s things like that that are really good to see and they are a nice bunch of people as well, so it is good to spend time with them and have those cricket conversations.

“The Emerging tour wasn’t as successful as we would have liked it to be but there were a lot of learnings that they could take forward and then they dominated against the Zimbabwe U19 team, so it was good to see.

“It’s the fearlessness,” Tunnicliffe noted regarding what she learnt from the youngsters.

“They are so willing to try new things and I think it is easy to get stuck in our own ways, and then that’s where the fear of failure creeps in. They were just so keen to play freely, they were buying into what our coach was saying and if we can play that brand of cricket going forward, and buy into it as much as they have, we will be pretty successful,” she added.

In addition to being inspired by the future generation, Tunnicliffe, who has been capped 10 times in T20 Internationals, including three One-Day Internationals, also soaks in information from her regular Protea peers who are also based in Cape Town.

“I love having conversations with them, especially when they go on a tour and come back, they will come back with new knowledge of the game, so I really enjoy having conversations with them,” she said.

“Someone like Suné, as well, who’s had to step up as (stand-in) captain now. She has learnt a lot, so (I am) staying close to her and learning from her.

“They are also hungry to develop with the game, so it is pretty cool to be in a friendship group like that; it is quite a privilege. Seeing them at practice, they work very hard, so it is cool to have that motivation at training and even off the field as well, having good, intelligent cricket conversations,” she continued.

With good form and an abundance of knowledge and inspiration to gain from, one can’t fault Tunnicliffe for dreaming about walking out for South Africa during the once-in-a-life-time opportunity of a World Cup on home soil.

“That is everyone’s dream, to play a World Cup at home. Your home ground, in front of friends and family, it is quite a cool thought. That would literally be a dream come true and just thinking of even possibly getting close to the final and playing at Newlands as well.

“Newlands is one of my favourite grounds to play on, whether it is international or domestic. I played one international game there and that would be the biggest privilege any cricketer can ask for, to play on your home ground, in front of a home crowd, especially in a World Cup, it would be awesome, and we need to grab that opportunity,” she concluded.

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