Luus has been leading the side in van Niekerk’s absence, including in the ongoing tri-series at home, involving India and West Indies. South Africa will play the final on February 2 against India in East London after finishing second on the points table between the two visiting sides. Marizanne Kapp, van Niekerk’s wife, has withdrawn from the match on personal grounds.
“Dané was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria, or the fitness benchmark for eligibility into the World Cup,” Clinton du Preez, women’s selection convener said. “She recently did another fitness test and unfortunately did not meet the minimum criteria, and therefore she’s missed out. It’s purely based on the not meeting of the fitness criteria that she’s missed out.”
South Africa’s fitness standards require female cricketers to run 2-kilometres in 9.30, and ESPNcricinfo has learnt van Niekerk was over by 18 seconds, but did achieve a personal best in the test. She was most recently test on January 27.
When asked whether van Niekerk could have been tested in a different way, du Preez said, “the strength and conditioning [expert] asked if we could use a different option and we’ve agreed to that. That happened.” Van Niekerk was also tested on the treadmill and did not make the mark.
South Africa have started rigorously applying fitness standards over the last two years and despite du Preez admitting that her skills as a player and leader will be missed, he said the selection process needed to be applied equitably. “Dané has been an integral part of the team. Her skill-set will always be missed on the field. We’ve had this discussion with her. We’ve extensively reminded her of that, and appreciated the hard work that she’s put in to try to get to the fitness levels,” he said. “It’s about remaining consistent with our decisions. Many other players have gone down this route. Everyone is quite familiar with the situation and what is required.”
Without Lee, van Niekerk, and recently retired Mignon du Preez, South Africa go into the T20 World Cup with less experience than they may liked but du Preez was confident that the squad they’ve selected have covered all the bases. “We considered everything. We had the discussion around what happens if Dané doesn’t make it; how does that impact us? From a player point of view we’ve created succession in the leadership within the team. The morale of the team is fine. We were out yesterday as a team and they were chatting together nicely. I believe the team have pulled together and that they accept the decision we have made, and that is required for the good of our players.”
South Africa will kick-off the World Cup at home in a Group A fixture against Sri Lanka in Cape Town on February 10. Group A also has Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh whereas Group B will feature England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies.
South Africa Women squad for T20 World Cup: Sune Luus (capt), Chloe Tryon (vice-capt), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Laura Wolvaardt, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Delmi Tucker, Annerie Dercksen. Non-traveling reserves: Micaéla Andrews, Tebogo Macheke, Tumi Sekhukhune