'Everyone thinks I’m crazy': SA pair's sacrifice for WBBL
South African duo explain how they've kept fit in an Adelaide hotel room as part of their unique build-up to WBBL|06
Laura Jolly in Sydney
14 October 2020, 09:57 AM AEST
After more than seven months without a game, South African stars Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp were prepared to do whatever it took to play in the upcoming Rebel WBBL season.
Even if it meant their preparations for WBBL|06 would take place in the confines of an Adelaide hotel room.
The Proteas pair will again be part of the Sydney Sixers' campaign this season and have already arrived in Australia ahead of opening day of matches on October 25.
But they won't have access to any training facilities at all until they're released from quarantine on Monday and fly to Sydney, where the entire 59-match tournament will be played.
While visits to the nets and the gym are strictly banned for now, van Niekerk and Kapp have been provided with a treadmill, stationary bike and various weights and other equipment to keep themselves physically active during their two weeks inside.
For fast bowler Kapp, bowling a ball into a wall of pillows pushed against the hotel room door has been another way of keeping herself on track.
"Everyone thinks I'm crazy but that's in our (training) program," Kapp told The Scoop podcast this week.
"The training has been good. Cricket-wise, we're a bit worried because we don't have a lot of days when we get out of quarantine (before the tournament starts). But running-wise, we have been working really hard."
The married couple have been fortunate enough to have each other for company in quarantine, with their contrasting personalities a bonus during their period of isolation.
"I try and make a good thing out of a bad situation; there's nothing I can do, I could roll around and cry like a baby, but they're not going to let me out anyway," van Niekerk laughed.
"(Kapp) just gets a bit grumpy."
This unconventional lead-up is part and parcel of life during a pandemic, and after the disappointment of having their two most recent international series cancelled – scheduled tours against Australia in March and against England last month – simply being part of WBBL|06 was too good an opportunity to pass up.
"A few days ago I was watching the Australian and New Zealand girls play, and I (was thinking) what high quality the Big Bash is," Kapp said.
"Sometimes I feel like when I play against these (WBBL) teams, it almost feels like you're playing international cricket because you've got so many good players, even the youngsters.
"It's just high-quality cricket."
Home for the next two weeks... massive thanks @CricketAus and @SixersWBBL for making this possible! 🙌🏻 super excited for #WBBL06 🏏 #leadingtheway pic.twitter.com/3Sq5926AcX— Marizanne Kapp (@kappie777) October 5, 2020
After enduring an extremely strict 100-day lockdown in South Africa earlier this year, where even exercise outside the home was banned, the Proteas players were finally able to hold a pre-season camp in August.
However, they were then forced to pull out of a planned tour of the United Kingdom, scheduled for September, due to a government ban on national sporting teams travelling overseas.
Fortunately for Kapp, van Niekerk and their teammates, individuals with employment opportunities – such as a Big Bash contract – can be granted exemptions to leave to country.
Joining them in the WBBL hub will be fellow South Africans Lizelle Lee (Renegades), Mignon du Preez (Stars), Laura Wolvaardt (Strikers), Chloe Tryon (Hurricanes), Shabnim Ismail (Thunder) and Nadine de Klerk (Heat).
With eight Proteas in total, South Africa boast more overseas players than any other country in WBBL|06.
"I'm really proud, it’s a proud year for myself as the captain of the South African team to see all the hard work from our players coming to the forefront, and getting opportunities in the best league in the world," van Niekerk said.
And after an injury-plagued 2019 and early 2020, which included everything from foot problems to a cut hand after attempting to slice an avocado, van Niekerk has declared herself fit and ready after the longer-than-expected break from the game.
Kapp has also returned to full fitness after a mystery illness prevented her taking the field for their T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia.
It has them well-poised to help the Sixers in their bid to return to the business end of the competition, after missing the finals for the first time last season.
"We just played some bad cricket at the end of last season, which is not like us," Kapp said.
"But this year if everyone stays fit and available for all the games, we’ve got a good chance of reaching the finals."