World Cup the goal for Proteas women

Dane van Niekerk (Gallo)
Dane van Niekerk (Gallo)

Cape Town - The Proteas women's cricket team had their opportunities, but in the end they were outclassed as they fell to a 5-2 defeat in this month's ODI series against New Zealand. 

South Africa showed glimpses of class throughout the series, but consistency remains the biggest problem facing this young group of players as they look to mount a challenge at the 2017 World Cup in England.

Of course, they still need to qualify for that tournament. 

Currently ranked 6th in the world, it is unlikely that South Africa will be in the top four by the end of the year. 

The top four ranked sides at the end of the year will all automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the other four slots will be determined by a 10-team qualification tournament. 

That is likely to be South Africa's path to London. 

Dane van Niekerk's team won the second ODI in Kimberley to level the series at 1-1, but by then the Proteas should really have been 2-0 up. 

In the first ODI - also in Kimberley - South Africa needed 13 runs to win with five wickets in hand. 

At that stage, they were sitting pretty at 115/5.

What happened next was disastrous as the Proteas lost their next five wickets for 0 runs to be dismissed for 115 and lose the match by 12 runs. 

That was the way they started the series, and while they recovered in the second ODI, they would lose the next three convincingly. 

South Africa would secure their second victory in the sixth ODI in Paarl, but by then the series had been won already.

"It was obviously very disappointing. We have to go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong ... we kind of know where we went wrong," new captain Van Niekerk said after the series. 

Still just 23, Van Niekerk has replaced Mignon du Preez as captain. 

This was obviously not the greatest way for her to start her new role, but Van Niekerk understands that there is a bigger picture. 

"It's a new role for me. It's been a huge learning experience. It's not the greatest start to anyone's captaincy career but I'm just going to keep learning," she said.

"It's a young and inexperienced side and we had our injuries too.

"The big picture is the World Cup. We know we have to go and qualify for that and now our aim is to get our best on the park for that World Cup."

It doesn't get any easier for the Proteas.

Next up is a five-match ODI series in Australia against the world champions. 

That series gets underway on November 18 in Canberra.

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