The Proteas’ perfect run of netball



The Proteas have been on the ascent in 2019. They have elevated their status in South African sport and engraved their names on the country’s hearts. They are ranked fifth in the world, but there is always a question that lingers: Can the Proteas match those ranked above them?

They did so against a daunting Jamaica side at the World Cup in July, but the difference would eventually show when they fell short at the hands of Australia in the semifinals and then England in the match for third place.

Now, they have a crack at redemption. England come to the Velodrome in Cape Town at the end of November for a three-match Test series and are on a tricky path after failing to win the World Cup, in which they were tipped as favourites. They’ve also slipped to third in the world rankings. The Proteas, on the other hand, have just been crowned African Champions, and only have room for improvement.

Captain of the Proteas, Bongi Msomi, is relishing the continuation of this rivalry, but insists that the quality of the English cannot be underestimated, because they are still a top-three side. After all, the Proteas have defeated the Roses only 14 times in 58 meetings.

“I think, to be fair, we do have confidence, but we are also aware that the African Champs are way different to what we are going to get here against England,” she said.

“Sometimes they win and sometimes we win, and with the good combinations we had at the African Champs, now will be the time to see if we can execute, because we are playing against one of the best in the world,” Msomi added.

The captain also believes that these fixtures are the best ones to show the Proteas where they stand and provide a helping hand to coach Dorette Badenhorst, who only took charge of the squad just before the African Netball Championships.

“We are lucky that Dorette has been mentored by [former captain] Norma [Plummer] in a couple of training camps and tournaments. It is nothing new that they are trying to instil: it’s just them following through and really just to carry on what we have been doing,” Msomi said. “But also the calmness of Dorette — her knowing the players and being South African as well — it is a different vibe like that.”

Badenhorst’s vision is for 2020. She said that an analysis of the last game against England is useless, because both sides have new players coming in, and different squads will take to the court in Cape Town than did in Liverpool.

But the English Roses are also a side adapting to new leadership from the bench. Jess Thirlby replaced Tracey Neville after the World Cup and the English Netball Federation have emphasised that she will be the woman to surmount the challenges the sides faces. She coached Team Bath for 20 years and brought the likes of current England captain Serena Guthrie through the youth channels when she worked with the Roses under-21 side.

Thirlby understands that the Proteas have moved on from being the best of the rest to now wanting to challenge those above them.

“The Proteas are a good team and proved that at the Netball World Cup,” she said.

“I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to a rematch against the Roses so it’s definitely going to be one to watch.”

The teams’ respect for each other will take a backseat once the onfield rivalry resumes on November 29, and, for captain Msomi, it is essential that her side equip themselves adequately to have strong starts to each match in the Test series. An added boost is that the Proteas will have their internationally based goal shooter, Ine-Marí Venter, available for selection.

South Africa has just come off the sporting high, ironically by defeating England in the Rugby World Cup. A series win for the Proteas — the SA Sports Awards team of the year — won’t quite attain this level, but it will shore up belief that there is more than one national team ready to duke it out for gold.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…