- Dane van Niekerk's failure to reach CSA's 2km time trail fitness marker doesn't put her selection for the Proteas' T20 World Cup squad in mortal peril.
- She'll be given an opportunity next week to prove her fitness.
- National coach Hilton Moreeng says she remains a key player in the setup.
Cricket South Africa's (CSA) dreaded 2km time trail won't derail Dane van Niekerk's opportunity to still captain the Proteas women at the ICC T20 World Cup, which kicks off on South African soil next month.
At least that's head coach Hilton Moreeng's hope after the talismanic 29-year-old all-rounder was left out of the squad for the tri-nation series against India and the West Indies starting on Thursday because she failed to reach the threshold for the aforementioned fitness marker.
That requirement, which has been doubled down on since Enoch Nkwe took over as CSA's director of cricket, has led to much controversy in the local game over the past year or so.
Female cricketers must complete the trial in 9 minutes 30 seconds, while their male counterparts have to do so in a minute less.
Dashing opener Lizelle Lee retired from international cricket last year after being discarded from the Proteas squad for failing a fitness test and later explained she felt victimised.
Sisanda Magala, the influential Lions all-rounder, has belatedly found his way back into the men's ODI squad for the series against England after passing his latest time trial but previously also fell foul despite continuing to perform well on the domestic circuit.
Van Niekerk hasn't played at international level since breaking her ankle in January 2022, but did participate in The Hundred and is understood to have slimmed down significantly for next month's showpiece.
"We believe she'll be ready," said Moreeng.
"That's why she has been given all the opportunity to make sure she is ready, so she can get through the fitness test and make sure she is part of the group. She was part of the camp and she trained with us. She is working hard to make sure she is in that squad."
Van Niekerk will undergo her fitness test next Friday.
Asked whether the rigid fitness criteria, which some still validly argue doesn't fully take into account a person's unique body composition, is fair, Moreen was diplomatic.
"We believe it's fair. Every member of the squad knows what is required, even at the domestic level. It's where we are as a team and as a country, it's the direction we are moving to. It's to make sure each and every player, as far as the minimum standards are concerned, meets them," he said.
"It's criteria that have been designed and given to players all around the country. It's one of those that tests your strength and aerobic side of things to make sure players will be able to deal with whatever demands the game gives them on a daily basis. It's all to make sure the player has the best possible time to perform."
The Proteas mentor though left little room for doubt about Van Niekerk's importance.
"She is a quality cricketer. Any environment will be blessed to have her."