Cricket South Africa (CSA) held its elite women's fast bowlers camp at the Powerade Centre of Excellence in Pretoria on Tuesday. The purpose of the camp was to take stock of the fast bowler depth the country has as well as the progress of the players from the Momentum Proteas squad and the Powerade National Academy.
CSA High Performance Manager, Vincent Barnes said;
“The objective is to look at our fast bowling stock and the depth. We want to ensure that we have given them (national players) the best opportunity and tools to prepare for the season ahead and for some of the young bowlers that are coming through the system, to make sure that they can step up into international cricket (when called upon). So it’s about monitoring them, having a look at actions and analysing of actions and chatting around some of the bowling strategies that come with bowling with the white ball.”
In recent years, the pool of players feeding into the national team has grown, with a steady flow of emerging talent coming through CSA’s women’s development programme. With a healthy number of players to work with in the camp, Barnes stated that he and the coaches in attendance wanted to see improved intensity, good in-game situational awareness as well as evolved tactical decision making during crucial match conditions. He also expressed his satisfaction with the continued progress made by the National Academy since its opening this winter.
“It’s about preparing for matches and the intensity we want to see them play at,” he continued. “We’ve seen through the winter here at the Academy, the intensity getting better and better and that’s what’s needed if you want to become an international cricketer. I’ve seen a massive improvement in the way that some of the girls have stepped up. Being here is a massive incentive for them to become national players.
“For some bowlers, it’s about working on technical aspects of their games and others it’s about working on the tactical and they also want to work on game situations. “
With four players in the top eleven of the ICC Women’s ODI Bowling Rankings (Shabnim Ismail 2nd, Marizanne Kapp 3rd, Ayabonga Khaka 8th and Dané van Niekerk 11th), Barnes called for more consistent performances from the unit which he believes lays claim to some of the most destructive bowlers in the world.
“It’s fantastic that we’ve got the talent in the national team,” he went on. “My concern at the moment is that for a team that has four bowlers in the top 11 of the ICC ODI Bowlers Rankings, we should be bowling teams out and doing a lot better as a bowling unit. We’ve got this really good bowling attack but we’re just not bowling as well as we should.”
Tumi Sekhukhune, who is was one of the National Academy players invited to the camp was delighted to be given the call-up, saying it is proof that she is headed in the right direction.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to be here with the national side and the management,” she commented. “I’m really excited to be here in this environment because it helps to show me how much more work I need to do to get to the national team.
“It’s so humbling to be here because I’m in the National Academy and being asked to join the national team bowlers for this camp makes me excited to think that the selectors are also talking about me. It makes me feel like I’m getting one step closer to reaching my goal.”
Momentum Proteas pace bowler, Shabnim Ismail said she took a lot out of the camp especially after a disappointing tour to England.
“It’s not always easy to come back after such a tough tour and get straight back into the swing of things but since we got back I’ve had a good period of time to reflect on the tour and to get my head back into the game and to be thinking positively ahead of the next tour,” she said.
“We worked a lot on the positives today,” she added. “In the last tour the bowlers didn’t come to the party as much as we would have liked so we’ve gone back to basics and had a really good discussion on how to bounce back not just physically but mentally as well.
“It’s always nice for the youngsters who are coming through the pipeline to come and see and hear what it’s like within the bowling set-up, within the South African camp. For someone like Tumi to come in and hear the conversations that we have in the camp is an eye opener for her and she’ll be able to hopefully take the learnings from here and use them in her own game going forward and also be aware of what to expect one day when she’s in the national set-up as well,” Ismail concluded.
With the mixed bag of results that the national team has produced in its last couple of series, Barnes is satisfied that they are headed in the right but maintains there is a lot of room for improvement for the talented side.
“I’m happy with the direction that the team is headed. It’s a team that I still believe can improve so much. They have a lot of match winners. If I look at some of the top teams around the world, they’ve probably got about two or three match winners, but who are consistently performing. I’d like to see a lot more consistency with our team, we’ve got match winners there, probably about five or six but who need to put in a lot more consistent performances. If everyone performs on the day, they are untouchable, it’s just about the consistency now,” he concluded