Dane van Niekerk: South Africa all-rounder out of Women’s T20 World Cup squad over fitness issues

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Dane van Niekerk lifting the Hundred trophy with Oval Invincibles
Dane van Niekerk led the Oval Invincibles to the Hundred title in 2021, with the side defending their win the following year

Dane van Niekerk has been left out of South Africa’s squad for February’s Women’s T20 World Cup after failing “to meet the minimum criteria for fitness”.

Cricket South Africa said all-rounder Van Niekerk, 29, did not achieve the required time for a two-kilometre run.

Captain in all formats since 2016, Van Niekerk, who has been recovering from a broken ankle, last played international cricket in September 2021.

Sune Luus will captain the side in Van Niekerk’s absence.

Van Niekerk posted a message on social media to say that she was “absolutely broken”.

Van Niekerk was dropped from the squad for the recent tri-series against West Indies and India, but she was given another opportunity to prove her fitness before the World Cup, which starts in South Africa on 10 February.

Her wife and fellow star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp has been named in the squad.

“Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria for the fitness benchmark,” said selector Clinton du Preez.

“Many other players have gone down this route, everyone is quite familiar with the situation and what is required. In December, we set it out clearly with where she needs to be.

“Dane will always be missed on the cricket field. We have reminded her of that. We also appreciate the effort she tried to put into meeting the fitness level.”

Van Niekerk is the only South African female cricketer to have scored more than 1,500 runs and taken more than 50 wickets in women’s T20 internationals.

She missed South Africa’s multi-format series against England in the summer of 2022 with injury and both her skills and leadership were sorely missed by an inexperienced side as they were thrashed 14-2.

Van Niekerk’s omission comes after South Africa batter Lizelle Lee retired from international cricket in the middle of that series against England, claiming that failing a weight test was a “significant factor” in her decision to step away.

Lee told the BBC World Service’s Stumped podcast that the experience was “emotionally draining”.

South Africa were semi-finalists at the previous T20 World Cup in 2020, where they were knocked out by eventual champions Australia.

South Africa Women squad for T20 World Cup: Sune Luus (capt), Chloe Tryon (vice-capt), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Laura Wolvaardt, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Delmi Tucker, Annerie Dercksen. Non-traveling reserves: Micaela Andrews, Tebogo Macheke, Tumi Sekhukhune.


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