Mignon du Preez: We are seen as the underdogs

"We just want to go out and stick to our game plans," said Mignon du Preez.

Mignon Du Preez said her team’s confidence has been boosted by wins against England and West Indies for the first time.   -  PTI

Mignon du Preez has played all four ICC Women’s World T20 and she is hoping to change the fortunes of the South African team. She says her team’s confidence has been boosted by wins against England and West Indies for the first time. Mignon is South Africa’s leading batswoman.

Excerpts:

Do you consider Australia as a very formidable team?

We don’t want to focus too much of our energies on the opposition. I feel this is the most open World Twenty20. The gap between the top four and the bottom four teams has significantly reduced. Obviously being world champions, people expect them (Australia) to win. We are seen as the underdogs. We just want to go out and stick to our game plans.

Progress made by other teams?

All teams have shown that they have improved. They are playing a lot more competitive cricket. Recently, India beat Australia in a series and also New Zealand. It shows that the game has changed. We just beat the West Indies in a recent series, which we hadn’t done before. We also beat England for the first time. Last night the match between West Indies and Pakistan was very close. So it just shows that all the teams are stepping up and improving as best as possible.

South African spinners?

We have got three spinners – Sune Luus, Dane van Niekerk and Furoie. I do think they are some of the best spinners in the world. Van Niekerk is a very good all-rounder, Luus has done very well for us. I do think we are well equipped in the spin department

More exposure?

I think that’s something we have wanted to do for a long time. The only way you can get better is playing more and more. We have been together as a unit for two months now. We have got to know each other more and more. We have become like a family. We know this is not the final stretch, but we are up for the challenge.

Playing in the subcontinent?

In the last few years, all the ICC tournaments have been in the subcontinent. We have done a lot of travelling. We know what’s best to prepare for these conditions.

Challenges posed by the turning ball?

It has always been challenging when you see the ball turn a lot. But you need to stick to your own plans and look for options to score. Obviously if the ball turns a lot, running down the track may not be a good idea. You have to use the depth of the crease, options like the sweep and reverse sweep becomes very valuable. You just need to play smart cricket to adapt as quickly as possible.

Many women have been playing since 2009?

Unfortunately, it’s not like the guys, who can play into their 40s. Into the 30s is the furthest we will go. If you maintain and keep up your fitness you can have a long-lasting career; luckily it’s a short format.

Semi-final not enough

I think ever since we’ beat New Zealand and qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup, a lot has happened. We have proved to the world that we can do it. This time we want to prove to the world that we can do it and move all the way to the top. A semi-final is no longer good enough. Then New Zealand were the tournament favourites. Even now, playing against England and West Indies and beating them has given us a lot of confidence that we can keep up with the best in the world.

We have invested a lot of resources, we have a sponsor ‘Momentum’ on board. At the moment, we have 14 contracted players. We play cricket full time. The hard work we have done over the last two years are starting to show results.

Playing Test cricket?

Test cricket is still a wonderful game, it’s not called Test cricket for nothing. Unfortunately, we don’t get to play a lot of Test cricket. For media purposes and the fact that T20s is such a short format and gets the crowds in, I think that’s the best format at the moment.