England women will play their first competitive limited overs match in over 5 months when they play South Africa on Sunday in the first match of the series.
Three One Day Internationals and three 20overs matches are lined up for the series. Mark Robinson will lead the England women in his first assignment as the head coach in Benoni.
The Proteas are on the rise on the international stage but have never beaten England in a One Day International in just over ten years. England women will still need to be wary of South Africa.
England women players in camp like Kent lefthander, Lydia Greenway shares the opinion that England need to watch out for the Proteas. She shares the excitement in clashing with the Proteas in South Africa, and is anticipating a good series considering the growth of the women’s game over the last few years.
The tour itinerary consists of a single One Day International in each of Benoni on February 7, Centurion on February 12 and Johannesburg on Valentine’s Day.
England will host the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017. Only four teams will qualify and participate in the tournament. All eight Women’s Cricket affiliates play each other over a two year period from 2016, for the right to make the top four to participate in England in 2017.
England Women were beaten by New Zealand and Australia last year and lie fifth on the table, even though they are ranked number two on the official ICC Team Rankings.
For England women to qualify automatically for the 2017 showpiece, they have to beat South Africa to ease the pressure on themselves for the remaining tours on the road to the 2017 Championship. After the tour in South Africa, England women still has to face Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies.
Lydia Greenway believes it is the right structure for everyone to play one another for a chance to have a crack at the ICC Women’s Championship. She conceded that England needs points to get them to a more comfortable log standing.
South Africa on the other hand is in top form, coming into the series on the back of six straight One Day International series wins since the Women’s World Cup in 2013. The Proteas have beaten India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. South Africa’s drawback would be the fact that they have not played an international as a team for close to a year.
Another England International, Anya Shrubsole noted South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies as teams that have taken huge strides in the women’s game.
The venues and stages to be used on the South Africa tour also show how much the game has grown. Famous grounds in Cape Town and Johannesburg will be used for Twenty20’s alongside both nations’ men’s matches, at Newlands and Wanderers respectively. South Africa TV will also broadcast the women’s matches for the first time.
Shrubsole hopes for the “new broom sweeps cleanest” cliché to come true in regard to the new coach, and hopes positive results will be instant. Team mate Greenway has already seen a different input from Robinson while out on the recently completed Sri Lanka training camp.
South Africa has a full strength squad available, whilst England has one injury to Natalie Sciver, who misses out after an injury sustained while participating in the Women’s Big Bash League down under.