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News

When it comes to WPL, CSA unlikely to stand in Dane van Niekerk's way

CSA will use her WPL campaign to facilitate her return to the national side after she previously failed the board's fitness test

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
13-Feb-2023
File photo: Dane van Niekerk was bought by RCB at her base price  •  Getty Images

File photo: Dane van Niekerk was bought by RCB at her base price  •  Getty Images

ESPNcricinfo understands that Cricket South Africa is willing to give Dané van Niekerk a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to play in the inaugural WPL after she was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Van Niekerk was sold for her base price of 30 lakh (approx. US$37,000) and told ESPNcricinfo that she was "[in] a bit in shock but absolutely thrilled" to get a deal.
She was left out of South Africa's T20 World Cup squad after failing to pass the two-kilometre trial and is currently at the tournament in the capacity of a commentator.
Even though CSA's policy is to only grant NOCs to players who meet the minimum fitness requirements, a source told ESPNcricinfo that it is unlikely that the board will stand in van Niekerk's way. Instead, the board would use the WPL to facilitate her return to the national side. An insider said that it would be "churlish" for CSA to stand in the way of her playing in the WPL. A final decision on the NOC will be taken after a meeting with CSA's director of cricket Enoch Nkwe and the CSA medical team.
The decision is likely to cause some controversy after now-retired opener Lizelle Lee revealed last year that CSA threatened to deny her an NOC to play at the Hundred after she failed to meet their weight requirement. Lee was going to be dropped on the tour of England but chose to step away from international cricket and has since relocated to Australia. She put her name for the WPL but was not called up at the auction on Monday.
The source described the difference in Lee and van Niekerk's case as being that Lee "fabricated test results, and when that came up for discussion, she walked away." On BBC's Stumped Podcast, Lee admitted she self recorded her weight instead of letting the CSA biokineticist take her measurements.
Van Niekerk's case is similar to that of men's fast bowler Anrich Nortje. Nortje was granted an NOC to play in the IPL after he suffered a hip and back injury at the 2021 T20 World Cup which kept him out of the tournament. Because Nortje was close to full fitness at the time of the 2022 IPL, he was permitted to complete his return-to-play program at the Delhi Capitals. He has since also made a return to the national side. Van Niekerk is likely to be given the same concession.
She is currently 18 seconds off South Africa's requirement of 9 minutes, 30 seconds for the two-kilometre run, and will not need to take the test again before the WPL. She will need to pass the test to play for the national team, though, who do not have any confirmed fixtures after the T20 World Cup. According to the FTP, South Africa are scheduled to tour Pakistan in August.
Van Niekerk remains a centrally contracted player and there were concerns that, like Lee, she would walk away from South Africa if her WPL deal proved more lucrative than a national contract. Her deal of approx. US$37,000 is understood to be near, in terms of value, to her CSA contract but with endorsements and match fees, she can expect to earn more than double of that from South Africa. In contrast, van Niekerk's wife, Marizanne Kapp, was bought for US$ 183,000 which is worth over R3.2 million and is significantly more than any domestic deal.
The other South Africans to get picked up at the auction were Shabnim Ismail and Chloe Tryon. Stand-in captain Sune Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Ayabonga Khaka and Nonkululeko Mlaba went unsold. Former captain Mignon du Preez, who retired from international cricket last year did not even have her name come up.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent