Dane van Niekerk, Chloe Tryon’s absence opportunity for others to step up: Nadine de Klerk

Nadine de Klerk in action for South Africa © Getty Images

Nadine de Klerk had a good T20 World Cup in Australia in March 2020. Her returns in the semi-final against the hosts made the world sit up and take notice. She earned her maiden Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) contract with the Brisbane Heat side in WBBL06.

But the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions meant South Africa haven’t taken the field since that T20 World Cup semi-final. The allrounder and her teammates will return to international action when they take on Pakistan in the first ODI on January 20 in Durban.

De Klerk is excited to get back to the field even though the getting back to grind has been difficult. But she feels they have put in the hard yards and will be up for the challenge against a side like Pakistan.

“Everybody’s looking forward to the tour and just to get back on the park again,” de Klerk told Women’s CricZone ahead of the series. “We’ve been training really hard and obviously in Durban it’s very humid. So, it has been a lot of sweat and a lot of tears. But once the series starts, we will be up for the challenge because everybody’s been putting in the hard yards.”

The 21-year-old believes South Africa’s T20 World Cup run is still fresh in their memory is hopeful of riding the momentum despite the long break.

“It is going to be quite tough to get back in it again, but as a team, it’s more or less the same big squad that we’ve been working with for quite a while. We have a lot of youngsters and a lot of experience; if we can combine, we will take the momentum from the World Cup, that’s still very fresh in a lot of our heads,” de Klerk said.

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South Africa will miss the services of their regular skipper Dane van Niekerk and ace allrounder Chloe Tryon due to injury. Even though their absence will be a big blow, de Klerk backs others to step up and make up for it with their performances.

“It’s always a massive blow when you don’t have two of your spearheads in your line-up. We’re going to miss them, but I do feel like it’s another massive opportunity for someone else to fill their shoes as best as they can,” she said.

“We have a lot of experienced players in our team. So, I think they’re just going to have to lead the pack and the youngsters will just have to follow the lead.”

The last time Pakistan toured South Africa they managed to tie the ODI series 1-1 and gave a tough fight in the T20I series before going down 2-3.

“We know that obviously Durban conditions might work in the favour of the Pakistanis. We’ll have to keep our eyes open and tighten up on our skills,” de Klerk said.

“They are very good side. We know that we can’t take anything for granted and we can never underestimate any opponent. We’ll have to put our head down and try to play the best cricket we possibly can.”

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De Klerk picked out Pakistan skipper Javeria Khan as someone to be wary of and said her battle against South Africa’s new ball bowlers Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail will be a key factor in the series.

South Africa last played ODI cricket when they toured New Zealand in January 2020 ahead of the T20 World Cup. With the ODI World Cup getting postponed to 2022, South Africa will be hoping to use the Pakistan series to build up the momentum towards the global event.

“We haven’t played any ODI cricket in quite a while. Playing 50-over cricket against a quality side in conditions that might suit them is going to be a great challenge and that can only make us better for the World Cup,” de Klerk added.

“It’s the only way you can be better, by playing games and challenging yourself against some of the best sides in the world. I think this is the perfect way to start the year in 2021.”

De Klerk was last seen in action when she led Coronations in South Africa’s domestic T20 tournament Women’s Super League T20. She wants to take the experience from the T20 World Cup and WBBL 06 to improve her game.

“This first week has been quite tough for me, getting back into it. Hopefully I can take whatever I learnt from the Big Bash and (T20) World Cup and just perform as best as I can if I do get the opportunity to do so. Can’t wait to get going and hopefully score some runs and takes some wickets,” she concluded.