CAPE TOWN : Whatever the result in Sunday’s Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final against powerhouse Australia, South Africa captain Sune Luus says the team already feel like winners having become the first side from the country to reach a global final.
South Africa will be outright underdogs against the five-time champions, despite having a strong bowling lineup and the homeground advantage at what is likely to be a sold-out Newlands in Cape Town.
But having stunned England in a tense semi-final on Friday, Luus believes they laid down a marker for women’s cricket in the country from which they can grow.
“We are achieving our goals, we wanted to inspire a nation and put women’s cricket on the map, to get young boys and girls to pick up a bat and ball. Hopefully tomorrow is just another step in that,” Luus told reporters on Saturday.
“We never thought people in our country would stand in long queues to buy tickets for a women’s cricket match. It is something special. I hope once this World Cup is finished, that will stay the same.
“There are a lot of good things to come out of this tournament. If people don’t take women’s cricket seriously by now, then there is no hope.”
South Africa had been to five previous World Cup semi-finals across all formats without success, but now stand on the brink of a career-defining moment for what is largely a young group of players.
Their bowling effort has been spearheaded by the pace quartet of Shabnim Ismail, who bowled the fastest ball ever recorded in women’s cricket in the semi-final on Friday at 128 kph, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka and Nadine de Klerk.
Luus said that in the final staying focused and not letting the occasion get to them would be crucial.
“We have always known we have the ability to be in the final, it was just to break the semi-final curse,” she says.
“For us it is to stay calm and focus on what we do best. We need to trust our skills and abilities.”
South Africa have lost all six previous T20 meetings with Australia, including a six-wicket defeat in the pool stages of this competition when they clashed in Gqeberha.
“We were 20-30 runs short in that game,” Luus says. “Australia bat extremely deep. Whether we bat or bowl first, we have to put up a big fight, we have to take it as deep as possible.
“Our pace attack is one of our strongest (attributes). Australia know what’s coming. It will be an even contest between one of the best batting lineups in the world and one of the best bowling attacks.”