Women's WT20 | South African skipper Dane van Niekerk left out from squad after failing fitness test
Dane van Niekerk|
Dane van Niekerk would sit out the much-anticipated World T20 in South Africa after her ankle failed to recover in time for the marquee event. Selector Clinton du Preez acknowledged her potential to contribute to the team but highlighted the need to maintain uniformity in rules across the board.
Cricket South Africa on Tuesday announced a 15-member squad for the ICC Women's World T20 2023 set to take place in the African nation itself from February 10. In a major blow to the side, Dane van Niekerk was left out of the contingent after failing to clear her fitness test prescribed by the team management, thereby handing over the side's reigns to Sune Luus in what would be her third major event as a captain of the national team. A leg-spin all-rounder much like van Niekerk, the 27-year-old was also in charge of the Proteas for the ICC Women's World Cup and the Commonwealth Games last year.
Dane had suffered a freak slip in early 2022 while feeding her dogs leading to a broken ankle. The veteran has since recovered significantly and started training in the nets but was deemed not ready enough to return to professional cricket yet. As per ESPN Cricinfo, van Niekerk took 9 minutes and 38 seconds to run the 2 km trial, exceeding the acceptable limit by 18 seconds.
"Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria for the fitness benchmark. She recently did another fitness test and did not meet the minimum criteria and that's why she has missed out," Clinton du Preez, South Africa Women's selection convener, was quoted saying by Cricinfo.
"Dane did not meet the minimum requirement for the 2-kilometre time trial. The management assisted her into trying to get there but she did not meet the minimum requirement," she added.
The 29-year-old has been in charge of the side since 2016 and already led them in two World T20s. While the 2018 campaign ended in disappointment with a group stage exit, Dane led her team to the semi-finals in the latest edition in 2020 only to end up narrowly losing by five runs via the DLS method to eventual champions Australia. The right-hander has 88 caps to her name in the game's shortest format, tallying 1,877 runs at an average of 28 while scalping 65 wickets at a sub-six economy.
"The skill set of Dane as a cricketer will always be missed on the cricket field. We have reminded her of that. We also appreciate the effort she tried to put into meeting the fitness level," du Preez concluded on the matter.
South Africa would begin their campaign against Sri Lanka in Cape Town in a bid to finish in the top two in a group that also comprises New Zealand, Bangladesh and Australia.
South Africa Women's squad for T20 World Cup: Sune Luus (C), Chloe Tryon (VC), 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-travelling reserves: Micaéla Andrews, Tebogo Macheke, Tumi Sekhukhune.