Saturday, May 25, 2024

ICC: Luus – South Africa aiming to inspire on home soil

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Photo Credit: ICC

South Africa captain Suné Luus said her side have a duty to inspire ahead of their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 opener against Sri Lanka on Friday.

It is the first time the nation have hosted the tournament and Newlands will be the stage for the curtain-raiser.

The Proteas are ranked fifth in the world and are favourites to make a strong start against a Sri Lanka side led by Chamari Athapaththu.

In 2020, South Africa topped their group to reach the semi-finals for the second time in their history, going down to eventual winners Australia in the last four, but Luus is as focussed on the team’s impact off the field as on it.

“It’s massive,” said Luus. “I don’t think we quite realise what we have already achieved without playing a game. It’s going to be awesome tomorrow just seeing everyone coming out.

“Apart from the cricketing things and apart from being successful and winning games, there’s a responsibility of inspiring a nation, inspiring young girls to get out of their comfort zones and to imagine a career where they can do anything.

“That is one of our biggest roles as a team we would like to play.”

While the ground is sure to be filled with thousands of fans getting behind the Proteas, Luus’ proud parents are facing a race against time to be in attendance.

“My parents just missed their flight. Hopefully they make it for the first game to be here and support me,” she said. 

“The moment I phoned my dad and I told him ‘this is how it’s going to be’, he started crying and he was just so proud.  

“It is a massive honour to lead a country in any series but at a home World Cup, that makes it even more special.”

In their warm-up matches, South Africa fell short chasing a huge England total of 246, before defeating Pakistan by six wickets. 

Sri Lanka also had a victory and a loss to their name against Ireland and the West Indies respectively, and Luus is staying cautious regarding the threats their opponents pose.

Luus said: “They are going to throw a lot of spin overs at us. That is something we need to address and we are well prepared for that.

“They have a well-balanced side with some strong hitters and some players that can just knock it around, taking those ones and twos. It’s going to be a game that we really need to try and be at our best.”

For Sri Lanka captain Athapaththu, an opening match against the hosts gives her side a chance to flex their muscles free from pressure.

Athapaththu said: “We don’t have any pressure because we all know South Africa has a lot of experienced players.

“They play a lot of cricket all around the world, especially franchise cricket. We have few senior players and a lot of youngsters but I will trust myself and my team.  

“They have good potential and they are very skilful players. If hey are playing their best, I know we can beat any team.”

The devastating top-order batter is presiding over a squad with several young stars, including 17-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne and Kaushani Nuthyangana, 20.

“This is a really good opportunity for my youngsters and I just told them to play freely,” she added.

“It’s just a game. I said it’s a school game, a club game, think like that. Play your natural game.” 


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