The Women’s Hundred 2021 – “We’re used to being in our comfort zones, it’s quite the opposite”

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Age, experience and expertise did not ease Marizanne Kapp’s nerves before the Cent opener.

Kapp, the 31-year veteran of nearly 200 international matches in all formats and ranked as the world’s best ODI allrounder, is part of a formidable three-part South African contingent who will appear for Oval Invincibles against Manchester Originals in of the first game. of the tournament at the Kia Oval on Wednesday evening.

“To be honest, I’m really, really nervous,” Kapp told ESPNcricinfo. “We had our first practice match yesterday, it’s definitely something to get used to but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty exciting.

“I’m usually someone who gets nervous but my forties come on top of that because obviously now you haven’t really practiced cricket for two weeks and the uncertainty of the new format just makes you nervous because you please do well. “

To comfort Kapp, she is joined by Shabnim Ismail, with whom she regularly opens the bowling alley for South Africa, and Dane van Niekerk, Kapp’s wife of three years who runs her country and will also lead the Invincibles. But the road has not been the easiest to this tournament, postponed since last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After their 4-1 ODI Series victory in India in March, the South Africans returned home and then traveled to England via a two-week quarantine period in Croatia, which involved a week confined to their rooms. Another five-day quarantine once in England where they could train but not mingle with their teammates meant they had to play a practice match on Monday while keeping their distance and the first time they will have contact normal with the rest of the team. either the day before the first match or the day of the match itself.

“I’m someone who, if I don’t hit 1000 balls or throw 200 balls, then I feel like I’m not ready”

Marizanne Kapp

During that practice match, Kapp found himself bowling with his side behind on an excessive rate and with the resulting penalty of only having three rather than four defensive players outside the circle. Combined with 20 fewer balls to play with, the format poses real puzzles for bowlers, said Kapp, who is also a seasoned franchise player, having appeared in the KSL and played six WBBL seasons with Sydney Sixers before signing with Perth Scorchers for the next edition.

“It’s really difficult,” she said. “I told one of the coaches yesterday my preparation is key and I felt so good leaving South Africa because I worked hard and then you go into quarantine and you lose a bit rhythm.

“Now I’m stressed because you haven’t hit enough balls or you haven’t played enough balls and it’s a new format and Covid and quarantines is a huge headache for me.

“They kept telling me, ‘Look, you have so much experience, you’ve been playing for so many years, everything will be fine.’ I’m someone who, if I don’t hit 1000 balls or throw not 200 bullets so I feel like I’m unprepared but actually I was decent yesterday, if I can put it that way. “

It’s hard enough for the bowlers, so think about the captains.

“I told Dane last night that I felt sorry for her because she was also in quarantine, so I know how I feel if I hadn’t prepared as well as I would have liked, and now you put the captain on top of that and a new format, “Kapp said.” I don’t know how she’s doing but we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

“All of this competition is going to be a challenge because we’re so used to being in our comfort zones and it’s just the opposite … when it’s there you immediately feel a little calmer because you know that she’s going to get the Finished job. “

Kapp is clear that she feels lucky to be in the situation she finds herself in – a fact even more powerfully recalled by the ongoing devastation of Covid-19, looting and violence in her home country.

“You worry a lot, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking, but I’m lucky to be able to be here and continue to play my sport that I love.”

Kapp had his own battle with Covid ahead of South Africa’s T20I series with Pakistan in Durban in January and February. She was stricken for weeks with the disease, which prevented her from undergoing medical intervention for ongoing heart disease, which forced her to retire injured from a WBBL game last November.

With a busy schedule leading up to and beyond next year’s World Cup, Kapp will now have to continue managing the condition.

“I ended up not going to the [procedure] because I was really, really sick with Covid, ”Kapp said. “It’s just something I learned to play with. When that happens, it’s not pleasant, but usually I can control it.

“When they put me back in training [after Covid], I had to start walking first and just walking my heart rate was 180 so I really struggled to come back. Throughout this Pakistani streak I was not 100%, especially with the bowling, I really struggled and was so tired. But I’m fine now. “

As the rescheduled World Cup looms in New Zealand in February and March, Kapp believes South Africa, the No.3-ranked ODI team behind defending champions Australia and England, have a golden opportunity.

“The team we have now are probably the best we’ve ever had and the best we’ll have for the next couple of years, so if we don’t do it now, we never will,” she said. declared. “Our team is a particularly good ODI team right now, so with this ODI World Cup pushed back, it’s a bit boring but that’s the ultimate goal for me.”

And, even if that goal is achieved, Kapp has no intention of stopping there, with the ambition to play until 35.

“Now for the first time I know my batting and bowling skills,” she said. “If I knew what I know now a few years ago, I would be so much better. I still have a lot to give, hopefully.”

Valkerie Baynes is Managing Editor at ESPNcricinfo


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