Big picture: England the favourites
South Africa in a semi-final. Against England. You think you know how this ends, don’t you?
For all that’s against them, South Africa have one big thing in their favour: home support. Newlands has already seen a record crowd for a women’s international – of over 7,500 people – in the tournament opener and the semi-final match could set a new one and the tone for a generation of women’s players to come.
In the end, the legacy of this semi-final may prove to be crucial in a country like South Africa where the domestic system remains fragile and at risk of falling further behind countries like Australia, England and India. South Africa have come closest to breaking the big three hegemony on the growth of the women’s game and this tournament will be a litmus test for how far off the pace or close to the boil they are.
South Africa WLWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Sune Luus and Sophia Dunkley
Team news: Bell to return for England
South Africa have preferred Anneke Bosch over Delmi Tucker and Ayabonga Khaka over Masabata Klaas for their matches at Newlands and are likely to stick to that combination.
South Africa: 1 Laura Wolvaardt, 2 Tazmin Brits, 3 Marizanne Kapp, 4 Suné Luus (capt), 5 Chloe Tryon, 6 Anneke Bosch, 7 Nadine de Klerk, 8 Sinalo Jafta (wk), 9 Shabnim Ismail, 10 Ayabonga Khaka, 11 Nonkululekho Mlaba
After resting Lauren Bell for the match against Pakistan, England are set to return to their first-choice XI.
England: 1 Danni Wyatt, 2 Sophia Dunkley, 3 Alice Capsey, 4 Nat Sciver-Brunt, 5 Heather Knight (capt), 6 Amy Jones (wk), 7 Sophie Ecclestone, 8 Katherine Sciver-Brunt, 9 Sarah Glenn, 10 Charlie Dean, 11 Lauren Bell
Pitch and conditions
Newlands has hosted 16 T20s this summer across the SA20 and Women’s World Cup and its square is showing signs of late season fatigue. Apart from fairly low and sometimes uneven bounce, the pitches have lacked pace and offered some turn which is contrary to what teams usually expect in South Africa. Only England have seemed free-flowing at this venue while bowlers on all sides have learnt not to err on the short side, but pitch it up instead. Temperatures are cooler than last week, with the maximum expected in the mid-20s, no rain and only the gentlest of breezes.
Stats and trivia
- In head-to-head terms, England hold the upper hand. They have won 19 out of 23 T20Is against South Africa, and only lost to them once at a World Cup – in February 2020.
- England have a batting strike rate of 154.77 against spin in this tournament – the best of any team.
- South Africa’s strike rate against pace is 94.44, the third worst behind New Zealand and Bangladesh.
That’s great, then there’s no pressure on us or anything. We can just go out and enjoy, play free cricket, enjoy the moment and try to do our best.
Asked if South Africa have been written off before a ball has even bowled Suné Luus was bullish.
“The pressure is all on South Africa. It’s the home World Cup for them. So, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. There’s such a calm feeling in our group at the minute, which is really nice. So, I think we’re not going to change anything. It’s just going to be really important to stay calm and just enjoy each other’s company, I guess. And just go out there, back ourselves and what will be, will be.”
But Danni Wyatt says the ball is in South Africa’s court.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket