Marizanne Kapp, South Africa’s in-form allrounder, has been ruled out of the Commonwealth Games after cutting short her participation in the tour of England for family reasons.
Kapp returned home before the first of three T20Is last Thursday after her brother-in-law suffered serious injuries in an accident which left him in intensive care.
At the time, Cricket South Africa said, her availability for the Games, starting in Birmingham later this week, was yet to be confirmed and, as expected, head coach Hilton Moreeng confirmed that she would not return to England for the tournament immediately after the hosts had won the third T20I in Derby on Monday night to win that leg 3-0 and seal a 14-points-to-two victory in their multi-format series.
Kapp’s absence is another blow on a difficult tour for South Africa, whose only points from the series came in the rain-affected drawn Test last month, when Kapp scored 150 and 43 not out to keep her side in the contest. She also posted half-centuries in two of the three ODIs, with England also sweeping that leg of the series 3-0.
After the Test, South Africa lost explosive batter Lizelle Lee, who stunned the side by announcing her international retirement amid a spat over the granting of an NOC for her to play in the Hundred. Shabnim Ismail, their key pace bowler, took just two wickets for the entire series, one in each of the last two ODIs, after missing the Test with a calf-muscle injury, not playing in the first ODI and then going wicketless in the first two T20Is before sitting out Monday night’s 38-run defeat with a back problem.
Sune Luus, South Africa’s captain, also missed the final match in Derby through illness, and she hasn’t bowled since two warm-up games against England Women A in the first week of July – between the Test and the ODIs – because of a finger injury.
Moreeng said that Luus and Ismail would be fit to bowl when South Africa open their Commonwealth Games campaign against New Zealand on Saturday.
“It’s a precaution from medical to make sure they are 100 per cent for that game and ready for the first game,” Moreeng said. “Yes, they’ll be 100 per cent.
“She’s recovering very well, Sune, and she definitely will be able to bowl, yes. Regarding Marizanne, she will be out of the Commonwealth [Games].”
Moreeng denied that the absence of several senior players during the course of the tour had been a disruption to the rest of the squad.
“It’s sport,” he said. “These kinds of things happen. Sometimes you have plans as a team, as coaches, as an organisation and then players feel that on certain days they’ve had enough.
“You have to respect and celebrate the times that they had with you because they were incredible cricketers and these kinds of things happen because when you look at where they are in their lives, the different stages of their lives, they have to make at times decisions that are good for them, as people first, before they can worry about anything else.
“So, we respect their decisions but at the end of the day it gave opportunities to youngsters to be able to put up their hands. We’re very excited by what we’re seeing. Yes, the results aren’t there yet but we’re taking a lot of things, a lot of homework to be done, because bilateral tours like this give you an indication of where you are as a squad.
“We also are a squad in transition, we’re not going to lose sight of that. If you look at our bowlers, the ages they’re at, youngsters are going to start coming in. They’ve given us good years.”
Tazmin Brits, the 31-year-old top-order batter who was called up to the squad following Kapp’s departure and into the team to replace Luus when she fell ill ahead of the final T20I against England, top-scored with 59 off 57 balls, her third-highest score in 24 matches in the format. Meanwhile, Nonkululeko Mlaba, the 22-year-old left-arm spinner playing her 19th T20I took career-best figures of 3 for 22.
But there was a sense from the tour of England that the current South Africa squad had peaked at the ODI World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, where they defeated England by three wickets in the group stage, only to lose their semi-final against the same opponents by 137 runs.
On this tour, England have looked a cut above, and the sides will once again be pitted against each other at the Commonwealth Games in Group B along with New Zealand and Sri Lanka. England open their campaign against Sri Lanka, also on Saturday after favourites Australia kick off the tournament against India, followed by Pakistan versus Barbados on Friday.