When Mignon du Preez walks out to the middle of the Fischer County Ground against Pakistan later today, she will become South Africa’s first women’s cricketer to reach 100 One-Day International caps.
The former Momentum Protea captain will join an illustrious club of women, including England’s Charlotte Edwards, in becoming the 25th player in history to reach the landmark.
“It is something when you think of as a little girl; just representing your country is something amazing. When I became captain I thought that was huge and now I am playing my 100th game for my country. It is really something special,” said du Preez.
Just over a year since du Preez stepped down as captain, the established batter will go into the World Cup without the pressures that accompany being skipper. Admitting to having too much time on her hands, du Preez is relishing the role of being one of the players and focusing on her own performances.
“It is definitely the best prepared I have been going into a World Cup. I am super excited about my batting, with bits and pieces coming together. I have gotten a few big scores, but I think the key will be to be more consistent and become that run-scorer that other batters can bat around. So I am looking forward to taking that role at the World Cup.”
In the week leading up to South Africa’s opening match against Pakistan, they have enjoyed mixed fortunes, suffering a comprehensive 103-run defeat to Australia, before blowing the West Indies away; bowling them out for just 65.
The last time the South Africa faced their sub-continent opponents, during the World Cup qualifiers in Colombo in February, Chloe Tyron top-scored with 70 to secure victory by 63 run. And du Preez is full of confidence when they get their campaign underway from 11:30am.
“We are fortunate we played them recently, we’ve got a good track record against them, so we’ll definitely go in with the confidence knowing that we can beat these girls,” said du Preez
“They are quite a young side with new faces and that is something we will want to adjust to. Hopefully, because we know English conditions are similar to the ones in South Africa, it will suit us a little bit better."
This year’s World Cup new format means that each of the eight competing nations will face each other once, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals before challenging for a Lord’s final on July 23.
“I think it’s fair,” said du Preez. “In the past, we have always been in the group with Australia and New Zealand and if you have one bad game, you are kind of out of the tournament already and I don’t think that’s a true reflection.”
“This time around, with everyone playing everyone, certain teams might pull off a few surprises and just change things up. We definitely do not want to leave it up to other teams to do the job for us. I think that is going to be the key thing when we are out there, we have to make sure we do our job and do it well”
“I wouldn’t mind scoring a hundred in the 100th ODI. That would be like a cherry on top,” said du Preez, jokingly.