South African players have been going strong with their performances as well as fitness. A couple of months back, they thrashed India on their home soil and currently, they have been attending fitness camp as well. However, their regular skipper Dane van Niekerk has been out of action for quite some time now due to injury.
And, Cricket South Africa Director of Cricket Graeme Smith has admitted that the long-term fitness issues of Dane van Niekerk are “disappointing”. She has suffered a lower back injury in September last year and since then she has missed ODI and T20I series against Pakistan (February) and India in March.
In her absence, all-rounder Sune Luus has stepped in and led the team successfully to a 3-0 ODI whitewash and 2-1 T20I series victory over Pakistan, as well as 4-1 ODI whitewash and 2-1 in the T20Is against India as well. Meanwhile, the injury concern for Dane van Niekerk has become quite serious now. Earlier too, she was ruled out in February 2019 for three months due to a stress fracture of the right femur.
Earlier, she was out for six weeks in 2017 with a foot injury, before joining the team just before the 2017 ODI World Cup in England where she led the team to the semi-final. However, she was about to join her national teammates at a fitness camp this week at the High-Performance Centre in Pretoria, but she couldn’t due to illness.
“The ladies are currently in camp (at the HPC) where they have been doing fitness tests but Dane wasn’t there as I believe she has the flu,” Graeme Smith told reporters this week. “I think it is something that is a focus because if you look at the stats in terms of the last 30-odd games she hasn’t been available as much as we would like.”
“We are currently involved in contract discussions with both men and women, in terms of the ladies and their PDP’s (Player Development Pathway), so these things will form part of these discussions. But ultimately you want your best players available more often than not and it has been a disappointing element that she has been injured a lot,” he further added.
However, Dane van Niekerk is a vital cog of the South African team. She is one of the best in the business and her all-round contributions remain important as well. Notably, she is ranked No. 8 on the ICC all-rounder’s list whereas her teammate and wife Marizanne Kapp is ranked No 1 as well.
“It has been a really enjoyable period for them, but obviously the hardest thing for them is content. We’re working really hard on it. There is something coming up in August in the build up to the World Cup, so hopefully, we can keep them busy and give them the best preparation for that tournament,” Smith concluded.