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December 18, 2000
South Africa's success in winning the right to host the next Women's World Cup in 2005 is likely to be the first step in the rejuvenation of the women's game in that country.
With a playing base of 16,000 across the country, including schoolgirls, there is already a core of support.
But the effort of the South African women's team in reaching the semi-finals of this year's CricInfo Women's World Cup has produced more publicity than the women's game has had in South Africa for some time.
The president of the South African Women's Cricket Association, Colleen Roberts said generally the exposure of women's cricket at home was "pathetic."
"It is a battle for our game. All our players work," she said.
There are close ties with the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA), and Roberts is hopeful these will become even closer.
Central to South Africa's development of the women's game is having teams tour there before the next World Cup.
"We need tours to get the women's game as much exposure as possible. We would like one or two incoming tours at the least. We could then push the media coverage.
"We haven't had an incoming tour for so long and that is absolutely essential.
"It is also important so local players can see world-class players in action," she said.
Three or four countries had told her they would love to visit but the situation for the moment is difficult because the women's game in South Africa does not have a sponsor.
The UCBSA funded the tour to England and to the World Cup.
"We have no full-time women's officer, we're not amalgamated to the UCBSA. We would like to see that.
"I've had long chats to the Australians and New Zealanders about their amalgamations and they have found the results have been excellent. It has done a tremendous amount for women's cricket in New Zealand, and England which has amalgamated as well," she said.
One of the leaders of the organising committee for the staging of the World Cup in South Africa has been Rodney Austen. He's the father of Dr Michael Austen, Otago selector this year and former representative of Western Province in South Africa and Otago and Wellington.
"The Western Cape Government has supported us with money for the build-up and I am busy in negotiations with former South African wicket-keeper David Richardson, who has a sports marketing job.
"We will re-start those talks when I get back," he said.
Austen is not intending to stay on to help organise the World Cup. Once everything is in place he will step aside.
But he expects the tournament in February-March 2005 will open with a day-night match at Newlands. Teams will be housed in close proximity to each other and teams will bus out of the area to games.
"We will use eight grounds, some of them up to 60km away in the Paarl and Stellenbosch area," he said.
It is expected the staging of the tournament will cost around five million rand or about $NZ1.5 million.
In the meantime, Roberts is keen to see the country's resources developed. The game is popular among Indian girls in the Natal region on the country's east coast and among the whites and coloureds especially in the Western Cape region. There are also teams in three of the black townships on the Cape.
South African captain Kim Price, who retired after yesterday's semi-final loss, is very optimistic about the future of the game in her country.
She first played in the mid-1980s against rebel touring teams from England, but for 10 years before 1995 the game was in abeyance and it was only now starting to recover.
"We have several players in the 18-23 age area who have been playing for those five years. There is a group under them ready to come through, but they are not quite ready. But they will be soon and we will have more players up to international level," she said.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?