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Ken Borland

Lee retirement & Ismail injury leaves 2 big holes, but great opportunities too 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

The shock retirement of Lizelle Lee and the continued injury problems of Shabnim Ismail have left two big holes in the South African Women’s cricket team ahead of the first ODI against England in Northampton on Monday, but such misfortunes provide great opportunities for other players, captain Sune Luus said.

Opening batter Lee retired with immediate effect on Friday, with the ODI series against England mere days away, which can only have been disruptive to the Proteas’ plans.

Fast bowler Ismail, meanwhile, has still not fully recovered from the calf injury which ruled her out of the historic Test against England two weeks ago.

“Lizelle’s retirement came as a bit of a shock, but we all respect her decision, she has given eight years of service to her country and she has obviously got her reasons,” Luus said on Sunday.

“Shabnim is still recovering from her calf injury, but she will be ready to go soon. These are big losses, but they provide big opportunities. There are a lot of spots in the team coming up now.

“We will have a young top four, but they are all excited about what they can bring to the table. It’s a big opportunity for them, it’s the start of their careers and what they make of it is up to them.

“They have been phenomenal for us lately, putting crucial runs on the board. The work they’re doing behind the scenes is great to see. It’s the energy the team needs to go forward,” Luus said.

England, runners-up in the World Cup in the summer, are a top-class ODI outfit and Luus knows the batters will face a particularly tough test against an attack spearheaded by Sophie Ecclestone, the No.1 ranked bowler in women’s ODIs.

“Sophie is No.1 in the world for a reason, she can control the game and strike,” Luus said. “So we will just try to rotate off her, get as many runs as we can, without boosting her ego or giving her a sniff.

“If it’s a bad ball then we must put it away, but we don’t want to give her anything. England will come hard at us and we need to be consistent for longer periods.

“Our semi-final loss to them at the World Cup puts in perspective how much we want to win this series. We had a lot of opportunities in that semi-final which we just did not take, otherwise the game could have gone a whole other way.

“We want to make sure we take every chance this time and not give them that satisfaction again,” Luus said.

·Play starts at 3pm SA time.

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