If picked, Ismail will bolster a bowling attack that conceded 219 runs in 32.1 overs as England strolled to a modest target with 107 balls to spare in the series-opener. While the match was lost by the batters, who languished at 109 for 5 after 30 overs in their innings, and had only one partnership of over 35, the bowlers were unable to keep Emma Lamb quiet and offered too many deliveries wide of off stump.
“It definitely wasn’t our best performance,” de Klerk said. “We had a look at the game and we know that we were far off.”
She identified a general lethargy in all departments as the reason for South Africa failing to challenge England and promised a more proactive style of play in the remaining matches. “We need to play positive cricket. We are much better than what we showed two days ago. We lacked a bit of intensity but we have been training really well,” she said. “We’re tying a few options against certain bowlers and we will go out and show a lot more aggression [in our] batting and take the bowlers on a little bit more.”
South Africa’s batters dragged themselves through most of their innings of Monday, with none of the top five striking at a rate above 66.66 and were in danger of falling short of 200 until Chloe Tryon’s 73-ball 88 and her 97-run partnership with de Klerk, who scored a career-best 38 “It really helped batting with Chloe who was going well at that stage,” de Klerk said. “She just kept telling me to be really positive and look to score runs.”
de Klerk went on to record South Africa’s best figures on the day – 2 for 44 – and was the most economical bowler in the match but recognised that the attack as a whole needs to be more focused and more innovative in their approach. “With the ball, it wasn’t our best day. We have to try and be as consistent as we can and just land the ball in the same spot,” she said. “And we also need to use our variations and think a little bit out of the box.”
Ultimately, de Klerk may be reflecting on the next challenge facing South Africa as they prepare for next year’s T20 World Cup and beyond – how to catch up with teams like England and Australia. At this year’s ODI tournament, it was evident that there is a sizable gulf between Australia and the rest. But South Africa were also shown up by England in the semi-finals, despite beating them in the group stage, which may indicate what pressure does to a team like South Africa, whose domestic structure is not as strong as England’s or Australia’s.
For de Klerk, regular game time and exposure to franchise leagues is what has helped her own game, and she hopes it could do similar for the other players. “Your confidence grows, you get a little bit older and you get a little bit more experience when you play against high-quality teams where you have to adapt to conditions a bit quicker and you have some powerful hitters and when playing in leagues like the Big Bash.”
Ismail is a seasoned campaigner in both leagues and the international set-up and if de Klerk is right and it’s fresh thinking South Africa are looking for, they’ll be more than happy to have her back on Friday.