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Ken Borland

Viljoen’s only expectation is to have fun & showcase her talents in cricket … but the fire still burns

Posted on January 17, 2022 by Ken

Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen’s only expectation as she resumes her cricket career is that she has fun and is able to showcase her talents in another sport, but such is the competitive fire that burns within the 38-year-old that she believes she can make it back into the Proteas team.

South Africa’s most successful javelin thrower with her second place in the 2016 Rio Olympics and two Commonwealth Games golds (alongside Marius Corbett – gold medals at the 1997 World Champs & 1998 Commonwealth Games), Viljoen has been included in the Northerns Titans training squad for their Senior Provincial matches starting in January.

Viljoen actually first made her name in cricket, debuting for South Africa in 2000 as a 17-year-old out of Hoerskool Rustenburg. At the time, she was the youngest to ever represent the women’s national team and she played in the World Cup in New Zealand that year and played one Test and 17 ODIs for the Proteas before switching her focus to athletics. Her last representative game of cricket was in 2003.

“I always knew I would go back to cricket for a new challenge and after my shoulder injury kept me out of Tokyo last year,” Viljoen told The Citizen. “I have severe competitiveness and that fire burns very high in me.

“I started back at the bottom with Irene Villagers in August/September last year and I’ve done really well – I scored 141, 102 and 80 recently, and took a few wickets. That got me into the Titans training squad.

“I’m really looking forward to the new year, I can’t wait for the opportunity to play for them and I think my game is strong enough.

“There’s no pressure on me to perform, the most important thing is for me to enjoy myself, show my talent and how much I love to play cricket. But I want to play for the national side again and I will go fully for that,” Viljoen said.

Of course the game has changed immensely since Viljoen last played at provincial level – her memory is of it basically being a hobby for the participants – but her experiences at the highest level of athletics means the all-rounder is confident she has the mettle to handle the increased professionalism that is now evident in women’s cricket.

“I am going to be fearless, believe in my own game and my capabilities, I am not going to stand back for anyone. My mental strength is very good.

“I had to overcome a lot on the international stage in finals at World Championships, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games. I will bring the same mentality as on the athletics field.

“It’s you against the bowler or batter and I’m used to staying sharp for an hour-and-a-half in an Olympic final. There’s a lot to carry over from my athletics career, but I have always enjoyed team sports as well.

“I’ve been an individual sportswoman for such a long time, so it’s nice to be in a team environment again. My personality enjoys being amongst other people, but cricket is still quite individualistic,” Viljoen said.

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