Former captain Dane van Niekerk described herself as “broken” on Tuesday after being left out of South Africa’s squad for the Women’s T20 World Cup in her home country.
The 29-year-old was overlooked for the tournament, which starts in Cape Town on February 10, because she failed to meet minimum fitness standards, according to chief selector Clinton du Preez.
“Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria or the fitness benchmark,” he said.
One of the fitness tests requires women cricketers to run two kilometres in nine minutes 30 seconds. ESPN Cricinfo reported that Van Niekerk missed the target by 18 seconds.
“It’s purely based on the not meeting of the fitness criteria that she’s missed out,” said du Preez.
Van Niekerk, who was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year last year, has long been regarded as one of South Africa’s leading players as a top-order batter, leg-break bowler and respected captain.
She broke an ankle in an accident at home in November 2021 and has not played in international cricket since then, although she did feature in The Hundred in England last year.
Van Niekerk posted an Instagram picture soon after the team was announced with the caption, “Absolutely BROKEN.”
Leading all-rounder Marizanne Kapp, who is married to Van Niekerk and was selected for the World Cup, retweeted her wife’s post with the caption, “One of the best captains in world cricket.”
She continued in Afrikaans, “You will be missed.” Kapp added a heart emoji and another denoting a broken heart.
Van Niekerk missed selection for a triangular tournament involving India and West Indies earlier this month but it had been widely expected she would return for the World Cup.
While the tri-series was being played, Van Niekerk posted a picture of herself batting in the nets in East London, saying it had been “a tough few weeks” and thanking the people who were helping her regain fitness.
Reaction on social media was overwhelmingly in support of Van Niekerk. Fast bowling great Dale Steyn commented, “I missed my 2km time by seconds, must mean I’m s***”.
Sune Luus will captain the South African team at the World Cup.