KZN Women aim high for 2016/17

KwaZulu-Natal Women’s player/coach, Dinesha Devnarain was disappointed her charges failed to get themselves back into the top flight of women’s provincial cricket at the CSA National Women’s Week in April but believes a blend of experience and youth will aid in the side’s progress this coming season.

Having been relegated from the CSA Provincial Women’s League’s Top 6 National section the previous season, Devnarain’s side’s strong showing in Pool B of the Regional section in 2015/16 saw them top the group, subsequently booking their ticket to the National Women’s Week and a chance to battle it out for Top 6 status.

The absence of no fewer than six players however halted the KZN Women’s National Women’s Week charge as they finished outside of the top six and seem set to return to the Regional section once more in 2016/17.

Devnarain is however confident that together with the likes of Momentum Proteas team mate, Chloe Tryon – who, like Devnarain, has been hard at work at the Powerade National Academy in Pretoria this winter – the squad can put in an improved campaign next season.

“I was very pleased with our League effort last season, it was just very disappointing for us not to have been at full strength at the National Week that took place just after Easter,” says Devnarain.

“There is still a lot to be positive about though, particularly that we will have a lot of new, young players who have come through the Under-19 side to consider next season!

“Overall I am very happy with the direction we’re moving in,” she adds.

With talents such as 2015/16 KZN Women’s Player of the Season, Nondumiso Shangase and 2015/16 U19 Girls Player of the Season, Joanne van de Veen to consider, the KZN Women’s squad enjoys a wealth of talent.

It will however be senior players such as Devnarain and Tryon who will need to guide the youngsters in 2016/17 and in order to do that, and heighten their own personal game, the pair are currently hard at work in Pretoria alongside their national team mates.

Like their KZN based male counterparts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Sibonelo Makhanya and Tshepang Dithole, Devnarain and Tryon are honing their skills and enhancing their all-round game under guidance and mentorship of a richly talented coaching staff.

“This is the third year that I’ve been to the National Academy and from 8am to 4pm we are busy with cricket, cricket and cricket,” explains Tryon. “It is great to be together with the other national women’s players, working on our skills as well as how we approach different situations, etc.”

“Due to my various other involvements, I go up to the National Academy for two weeks every month and hopefully all of the hard work we are putting in there will help us find the consistency we’re looking for as a national team as well as being able to help the many youngsters that are starting to come through our provincial side in KZN too,” adds Devnarain.

The KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union’s 2015/16 Women’s Club Cricket Batting award winner, Verona Maharaj and recipient of the Bowling equivalent, Zainub Sheik Omar, together with Rovers and Pinetown’s 2015/16 Women’s Club Cricket league winning squads, would be others hoping to step up into the provincial women’s squad this coming season.

Devnarain and Tryon warn though that the gap between provincial cricket and the national team is immense while the jump from club cricket to provincial is even greater.

The pair are however enthusiastic about utilising their experience to help the junior members of the KZN side to bridge the gap.

“Club cricket is not as competitive as it could be but it is getting there,” says Devnarain. “In the meantime, our age group structures are vital in preparing girls for provincial cricket better which, in turn, then becomes a stronger feeder system to our national team.”

“We have a lot of young girls coming into the KZN squad and they’re at a good age to try grasp as much experience as they can from the senior players,” says Tryon. “I’ll try my best to pass techniques, knowledge, game plans, etc. – a lot of what we’re working on at the National Academy – to them.”