- Proteas skipper Sune Luus is eager for her side to use their home conditions as an advantage ahead of next week's T20 Women's World Cup.
- Luus will lead the Proteas women as they host the T20 World Cup from 10-26 February in Cape Town, Paarl and Gqeberha.
- Luus also hopes South African fans can support women's cricket as they look to inspire.
Proteas skipper Sune Luus hopes her side can keep the trophy in South Africa as they host the T20 Women's World Cup next week.
The T20 Women's World Cup will be held for the first time on African soil from 10-26 February 2023, and it'll be the first senior ICC World Cup hosted in SA since 2007.
The Proteas women are in a tough Group 1 alongside Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.
South Africa will open the tournament against Sri Lanka at Newlands on Friday, 10 February.
Luus's side will then complete their Group A fixtures with ties against New Zealand (13 February) in Paarl, defending champions Australia in Gqeberha (18 February) and Bangladesh (21 February) at Newlands.
In an International Cricket Council (ICC) column, Luus admits that the Proteas will use home-ground advantage.
"With it being a home World Cup, we're very excited. We're going to have all our family and friends at every game, so that's also very exciting," Luus told the ICC.
"The aim for every team in the World Cup is obviously to win that trophy... So hopefully, this year is our year where we can actually get through the semi-finals, get into that final and hopefully keep the trophy in South Africa. That would be amazing.
"We are used to the conditions, obviously being a home World Cup as well, we know what to expect from every ground we're going to be playing on. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage."
READ | 'We did all we could': Unpacking SA star's failed fitness test as World Cup dream shattered
On Tuesday, the Proteas named their 15-player squad, with all-rounder Dane van Niekerk ruled out of the global showpiece.
Van Niekerk was deemed unfit and not eligible for World Cup selection. Van Niekerk failed in one category, needing to run 2km in nine minutes and 30 seconds and then missing the mark by 18 seconds.
Luus will once again take over the captaincy armband, a role she has carried on for the last year and a half.
The Proteas still boast a strong line-up despite not having the experience of Van Niekerk, Trisha Chetty, retired Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez.
"We're a very well-balanced team. This year we have a good balance of experienced players as well as new youngsters coming through. That makes it very exciting for us," said Luus.
"Our bowling attack has always been our strong suit, but I think we have a very powerful batting line-up as well. That's something I look forward to seeing come to the fore in this World Cup.
"We have our standouts. We have Marizanne Kapp in the team, she's always a very good T20 player. Laura Wolvaardt up the order as well. Chloe Tryon is very powerful as well, and also Shabnim Ismail, our pocket rocket.
"And then we have some youngsters coming through. Nadine de Klerk, someone I think is a very underrated cricketer, but is very good, and Nonkululeko Mlaba, she's a very good bowler and also someone that I think is very underrated."
ALSO READ | Moreeng insists Cricket SA's fitness test 'non-negotiable', backs Luus to lead
Since the first edition in 2009, South Africa have played all eight T20 Women's World Cup tournaments, finishing as semi-finalists in 2014 and 2020.
"I don't know if it's very memorable, but our semi-final against Australia at the previous T20 World Cup. We came so close and for our team to come so close to a team like Australia, it just showed the growth that we've had over the last couple of years," said Luus.
"It's really exciting to see where we are going to be this year in the World Cup."
Fans can now buy tickets for all 23 matches in Cape Town, Paarl and Gqeberha as the top 10 teams in the world vie for the ICC trophy.
The Proteas women's group clash against reigning World Cup champions Australia is nearly sold out at St George's Park.
Luus hopes South African fans can support women's cricket as they hope to "inspire the next generation".
"South Africa is a great venue. We have a great crowd coming in. We have a good vibe as well around the country," said Luus.
"Playing at two coastal venues, it's going to be low and slow, but the groundsmen might surprise us, you never know what they will give us. Paarl is going to be very hot, and it might also be slow. With the SA20 on all the pitches at the moment, they are a bit worn and torn, so it's going to be interesting to see how they play.
"A successful tournament at this year's World Cup would be massive. I don't think I can explain the magnitude of what a tournament victory could do for our country and women's cricket and just women's sport in general," she continued.
"The only way to do that is by winning a trophy, but if that's what it takes, then we're up for the challenge to inspire the next generation to pick up the bat and the ball and for people to take women's sport and women's cricket seriously.
"The women's game has transformed a lot over the years... T20 International cricket is also always fun, it brings in the crowd and I'm hoping for this World Cup the crowds will be coming in their numbers."
The Proteas women will participate in two World warm-ups against England in Stellenbosch (6 February) and Pakistan in Paarl (8 February) before their opening clash against Sri Lanka.
Proteas T20 Women's World Cup schedule:
Friday, 10 February - South Africa v Sri Lanka at Newlands - 19:00
Monday, 13 February - South Africa v New Zealand at Boland Park - 19:00
Saturday, 18 February - South Africa v Australia at St George's Park - 19:00
Tuesday, 21 February - South Africa v Bangladesh at Newlands - 19:00
Thursday, 23 February - Semi-final at Newlands
Friday, 24 February - Semi-final at Newlands
Sunday, 26 February - Final at Newlands