The T20 World Cup semi-final beckons for South Africa. They’re up against four-time champions. Captain Dane van Niekerk has been there done that.
The Proteas reached the final four for the second time thanks to an unbeaten Group B campaign. But fruitful as the journey has been so far, the team carries some scars from tournaments past.
In 2014, South Africa made it to the semi-finals but were hammered by England. They lost by nine wickets, having been dismissed for a meagre 101 in their batting innings. England’s batters didn’t bat an eyelid, with Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight knocking off the target in just 16.5 overs.
But that was a long time ago.
South Africa have eight survivors from their nine-wicket humbling at the hands of England in 2014. Van Niekerk admits that the occasion might have been too big for the team at the time.
“I think about 2014 and we were shell-shocked that we got into the semi-finals.
“You go there wanting to do well in a tournament, but it’s different to say you’re going to come and win a World Cup.
“I don’t think we quite understood then what it meant mentally, physically. We’ve been on tour 54 days already.”
Van Niekerk was also at the helm for South Africa’s other major disappointment, a two-wicket defeat to England at the 2017 Cricket World Cup.
“We don’t want the heartache of 2017 again. It was very tough for a lot of the players and management, we’re definitely going to do everything we can tomorrow to make sure we don’t have that feeling again.”