'This could be the start of great things' - du Preez
Mignon du Preez, the South Africa captain, has called her side's run to the Women's World T20 semi-finals a "stepping stone" for women's cricket in her country. South Africa stunned favoured New Zealand in the group stage to make the semi-finals for the first time ahead of Suzie Bates' team with a better net run-rate. Although they went down tamely to England in the semi-final, du Preez was proud of her side for their achievement.
"Coming into this we were definitely underdogs. I think we have done exceptionally well and over the past few weeks the cricket that we have played, we have shown a lot of character and credit to the team," du Preez said. "I am very proud of what we have done and I think this is like the stepping stone for women's cricket in South Africa. It is nice to give something back to people who have been behind us all the way, whether you are winning or losing. I think this is going to open up the doors and be the start of great things for women's cricket in South Africa."
South Africa lost only to Australia in Group A and beat New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland. Along the way, they took inspiration from West Indies Women's motto of 'Moving in faith' and said a prayer in the team huddle after their tournament ended against England this evening.
West Indies have been probably the most improved side in women's cricket in recent years, making the final of the World Cup in 2013 and the semi-final of this event.
When asked if South Africa could be the new West Indies of women's cricket, du Preez said she would not mind if her side was called that, as she admired Merissa Aguilleira's side a lot. "They have come a long way over the last few years and they have played really good cricket," she said. "They have played together as a team. Individuals do perform but they play really hard as a team. They are also underdogs but they play with a never-say-die attitude which I admire."
Du Preez did not think it was only England and Australia dominating women's cricket and said South Africa's run to the knockouts in this tournament proved that other sides were rapidly coming up the ranks.
She pointed to the professionalisation of English women's cricket and hoped that other countries would be able to do the same.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo