Dane van Niekerk ‘honored and excited’ as women’s match kicks off The Hundred
Dane van Niekerk feels “honored” to be captain of the Oval Invincibles in the Hundred’s first-ever game, hailing the opportunity as a symbolic step forward for women’s football.
The South African skipper will lead the south London-based franchise against visitors to Manchester Originals on Wednesday night as three years of turbulent planning and preparation finally give way to action on the pitch.
Much is new and controversial about the tournament – from unfamiliar city-based teams to the abolition of six-ball over – but the simple decision to put the spotlight on a women’s game is also breaking new ground.
The Twenty20 circuit is effectively dominated by men’s cricket, but the England and Wales Cricket Council has kept its promise to give equal billing to both editions of The Hundred.
“It’s pretty special and it shows what The Hundred stands for,” Van Niekerk told the PA News Agency.
“It’s a question of equality. To offer us, as women, the first game is something really exciting and I’m honored to be a part of it. It is a sport for everyone and it does not matter where you come from, your origin, your race or your sexuality. It is a level playing field.
“People may be reluctant to make any changes, but I hope we can put on a really good show in the first game and get people all over the world excited about it.”
One of Van Niekerk’s first decisions whether she finds her team first at the Oval will be who to gift the new ball to – a glamorous moment with the cricket world watching.
There are plenty of options, with wife Marizanne Kapp, teammate Proteas Shabnim Ismail and England international Tash Farrant all keen to take the lead.
“I think I’ll let them fight. It will be a fight between Marizanne, Shab and Tash, ”she said.
“When I run South Africa I usually let them sort it out, but I don’t want to be in the middle of it all. It might have to come down to rock, paper, scissors! “
The Hundred captains may decide to let the bowlers send in streaks of five or 10 deliveries, one of the main adjustments to traditional playing conditions, but Van Niekerk admits she will have to keep her cool if she is to enjoy it. .
“During the warm-up match we had, I forgot the 10-ball rule! It’s scary how quickly this happened. You look up, 40 bullets are gone and you don’t know where they went, ”she said.
“But I think it’s a great concept and as a captain I have to understand that. It will be about reading the game and seeing who is playing really well. If I see a pitcher all over a batter and feel like we have a shot at knocking them out, I’m probably going to go for it.
“We’re talking about a single being a T20 cricket win, so a point ball in a hundred is probably as good as a wicket.”