The ball is still rising; it feels like it will always be. It has cleared the fielder, the rope, the electronic fence and the speaker system, and flies at least forty metres over a boundary that has been placed so her so-called fairer sex can clear the rope. If there is a ground that can contain her, it certainly isn't to be found in the roped-off postage stamps of the women's games. This six almost ends up out of Grace Road. Lizelle Lee hits a lot of sixes.

She hits so many she currently has over 12% of the sixes scored in this World Cup. She's a better six hitter than Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies. It would be unfair to focus only on her six-hitting power, because she was the reason that South Africa had enough runs to panic against Pakistan, the reason India got crushed, and the reason her team was set up to go past 300 against England. And that's all fine, nice and wonderful, but she hits the ball like she has a dark prior history with it, and no one else is hitting the ball as far, or anywhere near as often.

Lee has gone from an average middle order player with no impact on the game to a genuine threat at the top of the order. Her team has done the same.

It was not that long ago that the South African team was a non-entity. They did make the 2014 WT20 semi-final, but in that match they had two players score double figures, and England chased down their total one wicket down with more than three overs to spare. It was their only success since a surprise World Cup semi-final in 2000. As women's cricket has got better and better, South Africa have struggled.

Lee opens the batting with Laura Wolvaardt, who is probably the biggest prodigy in the game. At 16 she walked into the team like a fierce magical heroine from a far-off land. Dane van Niekerk had never even heard of her before she was picked, but after watching her once in the nets, was completely won over. Wolvaardt has so much time to see each delivery that it feels like she could plan a backpacking holiday as Anya Shrubsole was delivering an inswinger. According to van Niekerk, "she's not 18 when you speak to her, it's weird. She's not 18 when she bats."

Then there is van Niekerk, a warhorse captain who passionately supports her team. An allrounder who bowls leggies, her bowling economy in this tournament is 3.26, which would be impressive in any case, but is more so since she also has 15 wickets at 8.3. Yet she has said she still isn't in rhythm yet and has been lucky with her bowling. Most people don't get that lucky, or in that kind of rhythm once in a lifetime.

Then there are her pace bowlers. According to Van Niekerk, "I came into the World Cup thinking I had the best opening attack in the world". The only thing that has changed since then is she now thinks her other bowlers have improved enough for her attack to be the best. She has pace in Shabnim Ismail, constant probing from Marizanne Kapp and massive swing from Moseline Daniels. But this is the weird thing about this bowling attack, and really, the entire team: They have all been there for a long time.

Coming into this tournament they were ranked sixth in the world. But during the last two years, they have played 33% more ODIs than any other team - double the amount West Indies have played. Of the team that England smashed in the 2014 WT20, nine have already played in this tournament; all nine could even line up in the semi. So it's almost the same side, just with an added batting prodigy, and somehow they've gone from a curiosity - why are South Africa never any good - to a semi-finalist and future contender.

So this is a team that has grown up together, is finally getting proper off-field support, plays more than anyone else, and has their line up right. It's not a surprise that they've finally become a decent team. Before the World Cup, the team got together to come up with a slogan for their tournament. This is not new for South African teams; 'ProteaFire' is something that has been used for years by the male team. But the women went for something different: always rising.

"We always want to get better day by day, and like what happened in the first game against England, you get knocked out, it's about how you rise," was how van Niekerk explained the slogan. The phrase came from the CSA publicity team sitting down with the team and asking them about their core values. There is no doubt that good things have come since the team and CSA started working so closely together.

Van Niekerk was 10 in 2000 when they made their previous semi-final, and she doesn't remember it at all. This time they have the chance to make a far bigger impact. It's more than just winning, they are playing to inspire. They know that there are more girls out there like Wolvaardt, and the more they win, the more chance they have of finding them. Every time Lee smacks a six, Ismail uproots a stump, and South Africa wins, they are building the game for their country. If they beat England, they have more than a chance of winning the tournament, but for them, they also have a chance of winning fans at home.

England look reformed in this tournament, and as good as South Africa have been, it was England who kicked them the hardest. But regardless of the result, they will be playing in front of the biggest audience they've ever played for. The way they play, it's going to fun to watch them regardless.

They might lose, but like a Lizelle Lee six, they are still rising.