Proteas

Proteas speedster Shabnim Ismail's sobering message: We've been affected too

Shabnim Ismail. (Getty Images)
Shabnim Ismail. (Getty Images)
  • Shabnim Ismail, the Proteas women's bowling spearhead, has given a timely reminder that Covid-19 has had a pronounced effect on the game.
  • The 31-year-old quick, who was named SA's women's T20 Cricketer-of-the-Year last weekend, hopes the increased exposure generated from this year's successful World T20 won't be eroded by the pandemic.
  • She remains convinced South Africa would've made the final of the tournament had it not been for rain in their semi against the Aussies.

Don't forget about the impact Covid-19 is having on women's cricket.

Shabnim Ismail, spearhead of the Proteas' potent bowling attack, delivered that sobering message amid her personal triumph of being named SA women's T20 Cricketer-of-the-Year at last weekend's CSA awards.

Except for the obvious financial implications of the pandemic, particularly with various national federations around the world investing heavily in the women's game, there's also a distinct sense that it denied the sport the platform to put its exposure into overdrive after a hugely successful World T20 in Australia earlier this year.

"100% ... Covid-19 has handed us a massive knock," said Ismail, who was South Africa's leading wicket-taker in a campaign that took them to the semi-finals.

"Coming back from the World Cup, we knew we were going to face the Aussies in our own backyard and were really looking forward to it. Everything happened so quickly that some people still didn't realise the seriousness of the pandemic.

"We've been at home for the past three months, it's really been tough. We love being out on the field and having people around us. For now, it's just about staying safe and doing our best to train at home. It doesn't beat actually running in and bowling, so it is a difficult situation."

Her views are a bit more sombre in comparison with Aussie skipper Meg Lanning, who last month claimed the crisis wouldn't be too detrimental to the game's profile.

"I don’t think it’ll be a massive impact," Lanning told cricket.com.au.

"Luckily for us, (the World T20) was actually the last big tournament that got played. It’s sort of the last one in everyone’s memories and it was such a great event. Hopefully, it’s not all lost."

Understandably, Ismail doesn't bother pondering what the Proteas might've achieved in their bilateral series against the Australians because such hypothetical thoughts have been dwarfed by cricket's shutdown.

But she remains convinced South Africa missed a golden opportunity to reach a first ICC final, a honour cruelly denied by the Sydney weather.

"We showed in that tournament that we came here to play. I still believe that if the rain didn't come, we definitely would've been in the final," said Ismail.

"I think getting over the last hurdle is just a mental thing. All the skills needed is already in place. We just need to go out like we did in the World T20 and get on with things. We have the best attack in the world and there are match-winners, particularly with the youngsters coming through. 

"We're arguably the best team South Africa has produced to date. We just need to get onto the field again."

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England 92/4 (28 ov)
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England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
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