Can South African win the next women's World Cup in 2017? Team captain Mignon du Preez thinks they can! She was kind enough to speak to us about this, her off-field role, and much else besides.
Here & Now
What’s on the agenda cricket-wise for you between now and the World Twenty20?
We are playing a Tri-Series against Pakistan and Ireland in Doha at the start of 2014 for final [T20] World Cup preparation.
What’s the structure for domestic (women’s) cricket in South Africa?
The country features approximately 16 provincial teams, divided into three major playing regions - Highveld, Coastal and Central - competing in a league format. The teams play both 50 over as well as T20 format throughout the year, with the top four provincial teams competing in the playoffs.
How many games will you play in a typical domestic season?
Give or take, eight 50 over and eight T20 provincial matches (home and away basis, these games exclude the additional playoff matches), as well as a Regional competition comprising the best players from the various regions (additional three games twice yearly).
Is domestic cricket in South Africa white or red-ball or a mixture? Do you have any preferences?
Domestic cricket is played with the red-ball given the fact that domestic playing clothes are the traditional white cricket clothes. Personally, I have no preference.
Have you ever played any “declaration” (multi-day) cricket? How do you feel about the death of women’s test cricket?
Unfortunately, the only test game in my career was on my first away tour and I had to carry the water. The only women's test cricket that I am aware of is the women's Ashes. As a result, women's test cricket is effectively dead or dying, which is a shame as we would all like to play test cricket.
You’ve recently come off a series with Sri Lanka - you won, but the T20 series in particular was no walk-over. Are these games against the so-called “minnows” getting harder?
The disparity between the top and bottom four has closed significantly in recent years, given the increased investment from the various cricket bodies. Women's cricket has taken a step in the right direction towards becoming more professional. In short, women's cricket has become a lot more competitive and doesn't feature "walk-over" games in the top 8 anymore.
Who’s going to be the team to beat to win the World Twenty20?
Australia, being the current champions and the West Indies being as fearless as they are, with big hitting power.
What’s the long-term goal for the Momentum Proteas? Can you win the 2017 World Cup?
Based on our recent and ongoing progress, winning the World Cup is a distinct possibility, which is essentially what we are preparing for. Some hard work still needs to be done, however I truly believe that we are on the right path and that the Momentum Proteas will become a true force in women's cricket.
Off The Field
You graduated in marketing; and now part of your off-field role as captain of the Momentum Proteas is to work on marketing the game! Was this all part of the plan?
No not initially, however I am thankful for having acquired these skills which do help me with the marketing of the game.
You are set to be the face of women’s cricket for maybe the next ten years - not just in South Africa, but globally - that’s a huge responsibility! How much training / coaching are you getting to deal with that?
That is a huge compliment and should it becomes a reality, I want to live up to such honour by staying true to my believes with integrity. In my opinion - Share a smile... it goes a long mile! Although there is no official guideline for this, one will have to take it as "work in progress" and make sure you live up to your own expectations for a start.
What are you going to be doing day-to-day in you off-field role?
Given the short period before the T20 World Cup, my physical and mental preparation is my main focus at the moment. I recently started doing some public speaking at sport events, which I really enjoy. I also attend cricket related functions such as mini cricket (cricket for smaller children) initiatives which focus primarily on promoting the game at grass root level.
Women’s cricket is already well on the way to becoming a successful game? But what do we need to do to turn it into a successful and sustainable business?
We need to find ways to create awareness and make it much more spectacular for the public. Thus, women's cricket needs to be on display more. Maybe for a start we could play some curtain raisers for the men's games. We will also need to find more sponsors to invest in women's cricket, since limited funds is one of the biggest problems currently. Lastly, in South Africa we will have to play a lot more competitive cricket to align ourselves with the top side in the world.
Thanks to Mignon de Preez; Women Proteas sponsor Momentum; and Antoinette Muller.