Mandela mantra powers Sth Africa in T20 WC

Captain Dane van Niekerk says South Africa can cause some damage during the Twenty20 World Cup.
Captain Dane van Niekerk says South Africa can cause some damage during the Twenty20 World Cup.

Captain Dane van Niekerk will have Nelson Mandela's words on her mind as South Africa seek to cause upsets and create change during the Twenty20 World Cup.

South Africa face powerhouse England in Sunday's testing World Cup opener at the WACA.

It is a rematch of their 2014 semi-final, when England cruised to a nine-wicket victory in what remains South Africa's best finish at a T20 World Cup.

South Africa have trailed England and Australia in the path to professionalising women's cricket.

However, exposure to the world's best in the WBBL has helped narrow the gap and several pundits are tipping van Niekerk's team to be surprise packets in this tournament.

"Nelson Mandela said sport can unite a nation. That's pretty much what us South African sports people try to do," the skipper said.

"Like the Spingboks did last year, it's something pretty special.

"And women's sport in general in our country has taken a back seat for a very long time. Hopefully we can change that by winning a World Cup."

The legspinning allrounder declared her team have "got their best chance ever" to do some damage at a major tournament.

"If ever there is a time that this team can win a World Cup, it is probably now," she said.

There has been little for cricket fans in van Niekerk's homeland to celebrate in recent months, during which Cricket South Africa (CSA) has lurched from crisis to crisis.

A fried Faf du Plessis has stepped down as national men's captain, CSA's major sponsor pulled the plug and its chief executive Thabang Moroe was suspended for alleged misconduct.

Van Niekerk and wife Marizanne Kapp, a Sydney Sixers and South Africa teammate, were playing in the WBBL when the saga started to unfold.

"We didn't really know what was going on.I read about it just like anybody else," she recalled.

"It affected the men's team a bit more than us.

"The people that are standing in now are the right people and will do the right things for CSA and the game."

Australian Associated Press