Kapp expected to join T20 World Cup squad after 'compassionate leave'
Allrounder opted out of the tri-series final against India after wife Dane van Niekerk was left out of the T20 World Cup squad
Cricket South Africa (CSA) expects allrounder Marizanne Kapp to join up with South Africa's T20 World Cup squad in Cape Town on Friday after being given what coach Hilton Moreeng called "compassionate leave" for the T20I tri-series final against India this week.
Kapp, who had meetings with CSA on Thursday, requested time off after her wife, Dané van Niekerk, was left out of the World Cup playing group for failing to meet CSA's two-kilometre time trial mark of 9:30. Both Kapp and van Niekerk are understood to be considering their international futures, with the guarantee of playing in next month's WPL thought to be a deciding factor in their plans.
Kapp and van Niekerk have both put their names into the WPL player auction, but van Niekerk's participation will depend on whether the CSA is willing to grant her NOC. The board's policy is to deny injured or unfit players the right to participate in overseas leagues, though their influence becomes moot if the player is retired. While CSA had previously sent players who were not considered fully match ready (such as Anrich Nortje at last year's IPL) to a tournament where with a program in place to regain fitness, ESPNcricinfo has learnt that CSA is unsure whether they make that concession for van Niekerk, who was 18 seconds short of a two-kilometre time trial mark.
The WPL player auction is slated to take place in the first few days of the T20 World Cup, on February 11 or 13, and Kapp has already indicated she is looking forward to it. She has also been active on social media supporting van Niekerk and late on Wednesday thanked CSA for granting her leave "to support my wife and see the family, as I mentally refresh and prepare for the T20 World Cup".
"She is part of the World Cup. She is committed to the World Cup cause," Moreeng, South Africa's coach, said. "She needed a break for compassionate leave and it was granted to her because we felt we are very happy with the form she is in, as far as her skills are considered. The leave was granted to her so she can come back ready to play."
Moreeng conceded that the disruption of losing his key allrounder, Kapp, for the final and the uncertainty around van Niekerk's selection has "been tough," on everyone in the South African camp but he wants his players to "move on" quickly. "It's been tough on everyone. The players I know will be very disappointed but at the end of the day, we need to move on," he said. "The disappointment is one of the things we will have to deal with and move on as a team. The players are very professional. They know these kinds of things happen. We don't wish it for any player but it is what it is. They know they need to get on with it."
Emotional couple of days, I am a wife FIRST and then a cricketer. Thank you CSA for affording me the opportunity to be home to support my wife and see the family, as I mentally refresh and prepare for the T20 World Cup. It has always been my biggest honour to represent my country pic.twitter.com/4rrdRj5kvk— Marizanne Kapp (@kappie777) February 1, 2023
Like convenor of selectors Clinton du Preez, who announced the World Cup squad on Tuesday, Moreeng maintained that the rule used to leave van Niekerk out of the World Cup was applied fairly across the board. "When you look at the minimum standard required of players to be available for selection - players around the country know what is required," he said. "It's a non-negotiable and every professional cricketer knows it. Hence we have bigger squads, so we can make sure we have depth in every position."
Asked whether he feels he has his best squad at his disposal, Moeeng said, "It's the strongest 15 available to us."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent