Proteas coach, Hilton Moreeng lauded his team for their convincing, seven-wicket victory over England in their opening ICC Women’s Championship One-Day International series match which took place in Worcester on Saturday. Moreeng was delighted with the side’s performance as they took a one-nil lead in the three-match contest, but is wary of celebrating too much too soon as he is certain the hosts will look to bounce back strong in what will be a must-win match for them in Hove on Tuesday.
“As coaching staff and a management team, you can’t ask for a lot more than the way we started on Saturday,” he commented. “If you ask me it was a near to perfect game, everything happened according to plan and the bowlers set the tone very well (up front). Coming to England and playing them in their home ground, it was important for us to start the series well. The win gave us the momentum that we needed and it has set the series up well for us.
“Going forward, we know that it’s going to be tough because England is a team that is wounded on home soil and we’re going to have to prepare accordingly, both mentally and physically, to make sure that we’re ready for the next game.”
This latest victory against the World Champions was South Africa’s first against them since 2016, when they beat them by five wickets at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Prior to that, they had not beaten England at home or otherwise since August 2003 in Bristol where the team, then captained by Alison Hodgkinson, held their nerve for an 11-run win in their second of three ODIs. England walked away with the series on both occasions and Moreeng hopes that this time, his team will make history by beating the hosts in an ODI series for the very first time.
“We need to stay focussed with our feet on the ground,” the coach continued. “We know that we’re up against a very good side. They aren’t the current World Champions for no reason. We just need to make sure we stick to our disciplines and execute our game plans well. Collectively we have a very good side and the players have long ago begun to believe that they can go up against a side like England and not just compete, but win. This is an opportunity for another win tomorrow, to win the series, which is something that they haven’t done before as a team and this will be major for South Africa and the direction that this team is taking.”
With the series in the balance, Moreeng wants to see a vast improvement in his charges’ fielding efforts, with one or two tweaks from a bowling point of view. He believes that victory will go to the team that executes its basics the best on the day.
“For our players it’s going to be a case of staying calm and to keep executing our skills,” he explained. “We all know that there’s still a lot of room for improvement. There are certain things that we know we could have done better and we have an opportunity to make sure that by the time the first ball is bowled tomorrow, the players are switched on and aware of what needs improving.
“Our fielding was neither here nor there and we’re all aware of it,” he went on. “The team discussed it today in our meeting and put in the work during our practice session. While we’re bowling during the middle periods, there’s one or two things we can look into not repeating. It’s those small margins that, if we can look to close, will make us a difficult side to beat and we will seal the series.
“All in all, we anticipate a very good game. England will not lie low and we know that they will come back guns blazing, but I think that the players will be more than up for the challenge ahead.”