'Something special' brewing for Proteas Women in Australia?

Chloe Tryon (Getty)
Chloe Tryon (Getty)

Cape Town - The Proteas Women feel that something special could be brewing at the T20 World Cup in Australia, and a big part of that optimism comes from having "at least six or seven" match winners in their side. 

That is the view of skipper Dane van Niekerk, player of the match in Sunday's thrilling win over pool favourites England in South Africa's tournament opener in Perth. 

Van Niekerk took 2/20 (4) with the ball before laying the foundation for a successful run chase with 46 (51) at the top of the order. 

There were also superb performances from Marizanne Kapp (2/19 in 4 and 38 off 33) and Ayabonga Khaka (3/25 in 4), while the experienced Mignon du Preez (15* off 11) saw her side home in the final over. 

"How can we not believe that there is something special on the way?" Van Niekerk told Sport24 over the phone from Canberra on Tuesday, where the Proteas were enjoying a rest day.

"We've worked hard for the last couple of years and the team has gone through a lot ... injuries and ups and downs.

"The thing I can compliment my team-mates on is the way they came back. They kept on working harder and came back stronger. We just feel like it's time for this team to achieve something special."

One player who perhaps flew under the radar in that match was 26-year-old Durbanite Chloe Tryon.

There are not many on the international women's stage who can clear the ropes with ease consistently but, in Tryon, the Proteas have one of those players. 

A pure ball striker with serious power and a natural eye, Tryon possesses an ability to land killer blows that hurt her opponents in a hurry, and she could be a major asset to this South African batting unit moving forward. 

She is flexible enough to float up and down the order depending on when she is needed and, on Sunday, she came in at No 4 to try and get her side over the line with the pressure on. It didn't quite come off and she was out for 12 (12), but a massive six over square leg two balls before her dismissal set up Du Preez and Sune Luus for the final over. 

It was a sign of the potential that Tryon possesses and, with bigger games to come, she is a weapon in South Africa's efforts to appear in a first ever World Cup final. 

"Chloe is a game changer," Van Niekerk said.

"She comes in with a presence and you expect something to happen. She showed it against England, even though she didn't score the winnings runs or make a massive contribution.

"It was just the momentum shift when she came in. She got the boundaries when needed them and that's her role in the side."

Momentum is key in T20 cricket and, in Tryon, South Africa have a player who will always keep the scoreboard moving quickly. 

"She gives you that x-factor in coming in and trying to change the momentum of the game, whether it's taking the game away or trying to set something up for the team," Van Niekerk added.

"She knows how valuable she is, and we know how valuable she is and I'm dying to see her play with the potential she has at the moment."

Tryon is far from the only one capable of winning matches for this side and that depth of quality is perhaps the major reason for the belief in 2020. All over the park, and with both bat and ball, there are players who can deliver.

"In the past we've relied heavily on a couple of players, but at the moment on any given day anybody can pick up their hand and be a match-winner," said Van Niekerk.

"We've got at least six or seven match winners within their own right so at the moment I don't feel any burden. 

"I feel privileged to be able to captain a team that is so incredibly talented and passionate about what they do."

Van Niekerk and Kapp, in particular, carry a massive weight on their shoulders given their experience on this stage as allrounders. 

Then there is speedster Shabnim Ismail, destructive opening bat Lizelle Lee, the versatile Sune Luus and the pedigree of Du Preez.

It is all contributing to the feeling that something special could happen in Australia. 

In men's and women's cricket since readmission, South Africa have played in a total of 25 Cricket World Cups - ODIs and T20s combined - without ever making a final. 

Now that they are well placed to reach the semi-finals, the Proteas are a lot closer to making history. 

"We just spoke about putting up our hands and trying to do something special for the country," said Van Niekerk.

"We spoke about the Springboks and what they did last year.

"I was in Australia when they won the World Cup, so I'm hoping to be here again when we win another one."

The Proteas are next in action when they take on World Cup newcomers Thailand in Canberra on Friday.

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