Three new faces in South Africa women squad for West Indies tour
Three uncapped players, Tumi Sekhukhune, Saarah Smith and Robyn Searle, have been included in South Africa women's squad that will tour the Caribbean for a limited-overs series in September and October. The trio had impressed at an annual North v South competition in Pretoria, where 26 of the country's most promising cricketers played three T20s on consecutive days.
The three-match ODI series and the first T20I will be played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, before the sides will move to the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad for the remaining four T20Is.
It will be a crucial tour for South Africa, with West Indies also serving as the hosts for the World T20 to be held in November, a month after the tour ends, and may foreshadow South Africa's fitness to compete at the global event. They will look to put a disappointing tour of England in July behind them, where they lost 2-1 to the hosts in the ODI series, before also enduring a disappointing T20I tri-series, which also included New Zealand.
"As a selection panel, we conducted a debrief from the England tour and also the successful Bangladesh tour prior to that," national convenor of selectors Clinton Du Preez said. "We discovered that there were a few areas where the team was falling short and we realised we had to look at different options and different types of skill-sets to try and set ourselves up well for the West Indies tour with the World Cup not far behind after that.
"Robyn Searle came and played something out of the ordinary during the North vs South tournament, she had a really good time at the national academy and she's played some great knocks which has put her in good stead as she's challenged for a place in the national team. Saarah Smith has come on board and shown a lot of intent in the national academy as well. She's really pushed for her place and we're looking forward to seeing what she'll bring to the national side. Tumi (Sekhukhune) has used the opportunities that she has received in her two seasons at the national academy and shown tremendous growth and maturity in a short period of time and we're interested to see how she will take to this new challenge in the national team."
Du Preez also said South Africa weren't neglecting the ODI series, even as the World T20 loomed. They will look to secure direct qualification for the 2021 World Cup - to be held in New Zealand - and the three-match ODI series against West Indies has points leading to the qualification at stake.
"We can't lose focus on the IWC because that allows for qualification into the World Cup 2021, so we need to make sure we are still giving ODI cricket the attention it deserves."