WPL – Dane van Niekerk – ‘I want to find that love and that fun factor again’ at Royal Challengers Bangalore

Dane van Niekerk has the chance to return to competitive cricket after a long absence, and all she wants is to “find the Dane” she may have lost in an emotional rollercoaster of a journey over the past year.

“I just want to get back into it,” van Niekerk told ESPNcricinfo on the sideline of the Women’s Premier League, where she is part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore lineup. “I haven’t played league cricket in so long, I just want to find the Dane that I lost along the way with all the ups and downs. And there were a lot more downs than ups, so it’s about finding that Dane, finding that edge again, the fearlessness.

“When you go through these exhausting times, you don’t like the game very much. As a cricketer, everyone says if you don’t enjoy it, it’s probably time to call it a day. [off]. I’m not there yet. But I want to find that love and fun factor again, find the Dane I’ve been missing, to be honest.”

Just as Van Niekerk recovered from a broken ankle she suffered in January 2022 and was all set to return to international cricket earlier this year, she was left off the South Africa T20 World Cup squad for failing to meet a of the board’s fitness requirements. : a two-kilometer run in nine and a half minutes, which she exceeded by 18 seconds. Instead, she served as a commentator during the World Cup, which was held at home. The last international match she played before the dismissal was an ODI against the West Indies in September 2021. She has since made three appearances in the Women’s Hundred and a few matches in CSA’s Provincial T20 competition.

She didn’t play the opening Royal Challengers match – a loss to Delhi Capitals – and said she didn’t want to put herself under pressure when it was finally her turn.

“I think I’m in the right place to do that [play without fear]; the management was incredible – you know everyone was incredible, the setup of RCB was incredible – and they understand where I’m coming from and understand where I’ve been. So I just feel very valued in their environment, knowing that I haven’t played that much international cricket goes a long way.

“You don’t have to put pressure on yourself. I’m not here to show anyone or anyone that I should have played the World Cup or that I should have done this. At the end of the day I want to find myself, enjoy myself again cricket.”

Van Niekerk: ‘Women’s cricket is moving in the right direction in South Africa’

South Africa may have lost to Australia in the final of the T20 World Cup, but they had a few things to cheer about. It was the first time a South African team – men’s or women’s – reached the final of a senior World Cup. The Newlands final had a record attendance of 12,782 people, the highest for a women’s match in the country.

Van Niekerk hoped that her cricket board would benefit from the growing interest in women’s cricket in the country and wanted them to focus on improving domestic cricket.

“I think I’d like to pick her brain. When I was that age I didn’t look at the game that way. She’s definitely someone I’d like to get to know better to see how she thinks and how she feels. about the”

Dane van Niekerk about playing under Smriti Mandhana

“This South African team reached the final – the timing was so good,” she said. “The hype around women’s cricket in South Africa, when the WPL… the interest was clearly aroused. The exciting thing is that South Africa is now looking at women’s cricket. Now it’s the WPL, I hope the demand for a domestic league returns in South Africa Africa will be coming soon we still have a lot of work to do but women’s cricket is moving in the right direction in our country and hopefully this can strengthen the demand for women’s cricket and a professional league, and spur the professionalization of all parts of our domestic cricket in South Africa.”

“I’m just excited to see them [her three compatriots] here, excited to see how they do and I wish them all the best,” van Niekerk said. WPL. May this also grow South African cricket and its strength.”

Van Niekerk, one of the most experienced players in the Royal Challengers set-up, was eager to get to know Captain Smriti Mandhana better.

“At such a young age she is so calm when she hits, she has achieved so much. She is still young,” van Niekerk said. “You think she’s young, but the way she does it, I think I’d like to pick her brain. When I was that age I didn’t look at the game that way. She’s definitely someone I’d love to want to see.” get to know her better to see how she thinks and how she feels about it.”

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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