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Women's T20 World Cup 2023

Dane van Niekerk ‘absolutely broken’ after missing out on South Africa’s T20 World Cup squad due to failed time trial

Dane Van Niekerk of South Africa leaves the field after being dismissed by Diana Baig of Pakistan during the ICC Women's T20 Cricket World Cup match
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk has been left out of their T20 World Cup 2023 squad for “not meeting the fitness criteria” laid down by Cricket South Africa. Sune Luus has been named skipper in her absence.

Van Niekerk hasn’t played international cricket since September 2021, undergoing an extensive period of rehabilitation following a freak injury that resulted in a broken ankle. The all-rounder suffered the injury weeks ahead of the 2022 World Cup, and has since gone on to briefly feature in the Women’s BBL, the Women’s Super League and The Hundred, but not for the South Africa national side.

According to ESPNcricinfo, van Niekerk missed the two-kilometre running benchmark by 18 seconds. The minimum requirement for the same is 9.30, and while van Niekerk reportedly clocked her personal best, it wasn’t enough to clinch her comeback at a home World Cup.


Van Niekerk took to social media to express her disappointment, posting a picture of herself in the South Africa kit with the words “Absolutely BROKEN..”

Speaking on the decision, Clinton du Preez, CSA’s women’s selection convener, said: “Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria, or the fitness benchmark for eligibility into the World Cup. She recently did another fitness test and unfortunately did not meet the minimum criteria, and therefore she’s missed out. It’s purely based on the not meeting of the fitness criteria that she’s missed out.

“Dane did not meet the minimum requirement for the 2-kilometre time trial,” she continued. “The management assisted her into trying to get there but she did not meet the minimum requirement. The skill set of Dane as a cricketer will always be missed on the cricket field. We have reminded her of that. We also appreciate the effort she tried to put into meeting the fitness level.

“It’s about remaining consistent with our decisions,” du Preez said. “Many other players have gone down this route. Everyone is quite familiar with the situation and what is required. In December, we set it out clearly with where she needs to be.”

Earlier this month, van Niekerk missed out on selection for the women’s tri-series involving West Indies and India after failing to meet the fitness standards, with Luus leading in her absence.

Cricket South Africa’s rigid fitness requirements have been a subject of considerable debate in the past. Last year, van Niekerk’s former teammate Lizelle Lee was dropped from the national side after not meeting weight requirements, announcing her international retirement not long after. Others have been on the wrong end of the requirements too, including men’s cricketer Sisanda Magala, who was left “very angry and frustrated” after overshooting the 2km time trial. “When do you run a whole two kilometres consistently on a cricket field?” he had said. “You don’t. Your maximum sprint is probably when you are chasing a ball on the boundary.”

On social media, many others were left surprised by van Niekerk’s non-selection.

South Africa’s squad for the 2023 T20 World Cup: Sune Luus (C), Chloe Tryon (VC), Shabnim Ismail, Anneke Bosch, Lara Goodall, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Delmi Tucker, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Laura Wolvaardt, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Annerie Dercksen.

Reserves: Micaéla Andrews, Tebogo Macheke, Tumi Sekhukhune

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