Cape Town - Proteas women coach Hilton Moreeng is satisfied with the team's motivation and drive since their arrival in the West Indies on Monday.
The national women's team are in the Caribbean for a three-match One-Day International (ODI) and five-match T20 International series starting this Sunday, September 16.
The team have had two training sessions since their arrival in Barbados and the coach is pleased with the quick progress the players have made with each session under extremely hot and humid conditions.
They have a warm-up match on Thursday against an Invitational side that will also assist in preparing for the first ICC Women's Championship match, which is vital for getting points towards direct qualification for the 2021 ICC Women's World Cup in New Zealand.
"We're very excited," Moreeng commented. "The last two days have been good for us. We had extreme heat on Day One and you could see a few players were under pressure regarding it and they realised these are conditions that they have to acclimatise to. We're very happy we were able to come earlier to be able to prepare for that. The second day saw a bit of rain disruption but at the end of the day were able to get some practice in which was very good in preparation for our warm-up game tomorrow.
"Yes, wickets and conditions are very different from what we're used to, so it's very important for each and every player to be given an opportunity to prepare and get time in the middle."
Moreeng has clear plans for the warm-up match and outcomes that he wants to observe and review.
He believes that he has the right personnel for what will be demanded of the team during this tour as they look to win an ODI series in the West Indies for the very first time.
"The objective for us is more about preparation," he explained. "We want to see what the wicket has got to offer and from there we can look at how we're going to strategise going forward because by then we'll have another two days of preparation before the first game (of the ODI series).
"With the senior players that we have and the youngsters coming in, it is good to see how well they have gelled. The mood in the camp is very good and positive and everyone is looking forward to the first game. We have a good opportunity to make history by winning an ODI series here but it's going to require us to focus extremely hard on our basics."
Moreeng is also impressed with the calibre of talent that has been introduced to the squad in the four uncapped players: Faye Tunnicliffe, Saarah Smith, Tumi Sekhukhune and Robyn Searle.
He is particularly impressed with the fresh energy that they bring to the camp as well as their boundless enthusiasm and willingness to learn. He said that they are lucky to arrive in a team that has so much experience with players that will be able to share their learnings from over the years.
"They have blended in very well," he continued. "For them it's a blessing to come into such an experienced team. The seniors have been very helpful in showing them around and helping them at training. We've been very impressed with what we've seen from them skills-wise. Overall as a team, I think we've got a very good balance and we know that we're up against a dangerous team who on their day, but we back ourselves with the skills that we have in this squad."
The coach's assessment on the West Indian team:
"They are a very strong side. Playing on home soil, they are a very proud team. We know that it's going to be a difficult tour because they play well under their conditions. They are also very well led by the experience of Stefanie Taylor so no, you can't take them lightly. What happened in the World Cup is history. This ODI series is very critical for both teams for qualification for 2021 and both teams are aware of that."
All in all, it is a tour that Moreeng and his coaching staff are looking forward to.
He is excited to see the progress made from the side's disappointing England tour in June and hopes to see a marked improvement in the side's consistency.
"The players have worked hard. I think we have let ourselves down as far as results are concerned. For us now, it's a matter of working at improving our inconsistency problem, it's something we speak a lot about in the change room, in team meetings. We need to see a lot more clinical performances more often than not because recently we've seen that we play good cricket in patches and for us to get ourselves in the top three (IWC log) there needs to be more good days than bad days. Senior players need to put up their hands and take responsibility. With the squad that we have, we should be able to compete and successfully beat West Indies and win the series," he concluded.
Proteas squad to West Indies:
Dané van Niekerk (captain, Eastern Province), Chloe Tryon (vice-captain, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Lizelle Lee (North West), Suné Luus (Northerns), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng), Masabata Klaas (North West), Zintle Mali (Border), Faye Tunnicliffe (Western Province), Robyn Searle (Gauteng), Tumi Sekhukhune (Easterns), Saarah Smith (Western Province)
Sunday, September 16: 1st ODI - Kensington Oval
Wednesday, September 19: 2nd ODI - Kensington Oval
Saturday, September 22: 3rd ODI - Kensington Oval
Monday, September 24: 1st T20I - Kensington Oval
Friday, September 28: 2nd T20I - Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Sunday, September 30: 3rd T20I - Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Wednesday, October 3: 4th T20I - Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Saturday, October 6: 5th T20I - Brian Lara Cricket Academy