Johannesburg, 9 May 2024

Our DP World Lions women’s team are deservedly buoyant at the end of a 2023/24 season that saw them finish runners-up in both the One-Day and T20 competitions.

Coach Shaun Pretorius expressed his delight at the progress the team has made and said the highlight for him was the improvement shown in the 50-over game, where they mounted a stirring charge up the standings in the second half of the season. Considering they were in fifth place at the end of November, to be in contention for the title in the last round of fixtures was a remarkable effort. “If you measure where we were last season, in the 50-over competition we were down at the bottom, then it was a massive accomplishment to finish second. The One-Day Cup was definitely the highlight for me, to come back to second and really fight for that trophy showed the immense progress we’ve made and the respect we showed the format,” Pretorius said.“Our ground fielding improved exceptionally, we caused a lot more run outs this season, and we also chased down more than 250 twice. We beat Western Province at Newlands, where they are normally unbeaten, and we showed great fight in the ‘final’ against the Dolphins, but unfortunately could just not get over the line.”

Pretorius says next season there will need to be a similar shoulders-to-the-wheel attitude for T20 cricket; even though the DP World Lions finished second, they were nine points behind winners Western Province, a gap they are all keen to eliminate.

“In terms of T20, there are a few more tweaks needed in our game-plan. But the buy-in was evident this season in terms of the brand of cricket we are striving for. The ladies were not scared to take chances, they played with higher energy and were more positive. You could see the fight in the team, especially among the younger players,” Pretorius said.

The coach had special praise for captain Kgomotso Rapoo and the burden she bore in not only leading the team, but also the bowling attack, as well as contributing valuable runs. The young skipper, who turns 22 on May 16, was the DP World Lions’ leading wicket-taker in the one-day competition, taking 13 wickets, with the next best being Relebohile Mkhize’s seven. Spinner Rapoo also took seven T20 wickets, second-best to Mkhize’s eight, in the T20 competition, conceding just 6.00 runs an over.

Rapoo also averaged 25.25 with the bat in 50-over cricket, at a strike-rate of 87.06.

“Kgomotso was phenomenal and it’s great to see the player she is growing into,” Pretorius said. “The type of leadership she brought as well as her brilliant bowling really inspired the team. She just never gave up, she never believes the team is beaten and she showed that with her better than a run-a-ball half-century in the last one-day match against the Dolphins that nearly won the game after we were well out of it.”

The 2023/24 season was also a great success for veteran batter Kirstie Thomson, who showed she remains as fruitful as ever with the bat as she averaged 51.66 in the One-Day Cup and was the leading run-scorer in the T20s with 253 at an average of 42 and a strike-rate of 117.

Pretorius was also happy for Nonkululeko Thabethe, who enjoyed a vastly improved season as she topped the 50-over run-scorer’s list with 299, including three half-centuries, and also made 114 T20 runs at a strike-rate of 99.13. For those looking to the future, there were also good contributions from Madison Landsman, Jenna Evans, Karabo Meso and Relebohile Mkhize, with Pretorius predicting a bright future for #ThePrideOfJozi’s young brigade.

Any team that can call on all that talent, as well as the input of Proteas stars Ayabonga Khaka, Tumi Sekhukhune and Sinalo Jafta, and the experience of Sunette Viljoen-Louw, is bound to shine. Pretorius said any doubts that the DP World Lions would not be at the forefront of the women’s game when it turned professional have been dispelled by the excellent season past.

“You can really see that the women’s game has been uplifted and it has been a huge accomplishment made possible by all the support we have received from the management and staff of the DP World Lions,” Pretorius said.