Township-Based Women Cricketers Get Selected For South African Team By Cheryl Roberts

18 Sep

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They met on the cricket field. Their cricket journey happened at about the same time, through similar circumstances. It all started after both their parents passed away. They both followed their older siblings to the cricket field. They both started playing cricket at the same cricket club. They both went on to play provincial cricket for KZN. Today, they are both selected to play for South Africa’s women’s cricket team.
That’s 23 year old Nondumiso Shangase and 19 year old Nonkuleko Mlaba from Lindelani cricket club in Durban. They both went to township schools. They both started playing cricket at a township-based cricket club and never left the club.
After going to the cricket field out of curiosity, they both fell in love with cricket. Nonkuleleko started playing cricket about 6 years ago. Nondumiso started playing cricket about 5 years ago. Their interest in cricket started after both their parents passed away.
Nondumiso is from Inanda and stays with her grandmother. Nonkuleleko, originally from Kwa Mashu stays in Ntuzuma with her uncle’s family.
‘When my mother passed away we had our Gogo taking care of us. One day I went to the cricket field with my older brother to have something to do. I was 17 years old. Then I started liking cricket and started playing,’ says Nondumiso.
‘After my father passed away, I went to stay with my uncle in Ntuzuma. Then one day I followed my older sister and brother to the cricket field. I also wanted to bat and bowl. Then just like that, I was into the sport and playing the game,’ says 19 year old Nonkuleleko.
Lindelani cricket club is one of the development hubs of KZN Cricket. The cricket hub started out with the intention of developing boy cricketers. Then the girls came along, too and also wanted to play. And Lindelani women’s cricket was started. The girl cricketers soon progressed and soon they were playing for KZN age group teams.
Within 5 years Nondumsio was playing for the KZN women’s cricket team, had scored her first century in interprovincal cricket and was captaining KZN women’s cricket team. In 2018, Nondumiso was selected to attend the national women’s cricket academy. She got the selection for 2019, again. And she got her first call-up to the SA women’s cricket team. Nondumiso played for South Africa in the home series against Pakistan.
Last December, after finishing matric exams, teenage girl cricketer Nonkuleleko Mlaba played for KZN in the SA u19 school girls cricket week. There she stunned with the ball, taking wickets, including a hat-trick in one match. She was a late call-up to the national academy; wasn’t announced in the initial intake. She also wasn’t announced in the initial SA Emerging women’s team to play against Bangladesh. Then she got included. Nonkuleleko grabbed her opportunity and took wickets in the home series against Bangladesh. It was becoming difficult to ignore this talent.
Both Nodumiso and Nonkuleleko played in the recently launched inaugural women’s T20 Super league.
Then came the announcement of South Africa’s women’s cricket team to tour India. And both Nondumiso and Nonkuleleko were selected to be in the SA team. On Suday, Nondumiso and Nonkuleleko travelled to India with the SA team. It was their first flight and travel out of South Africa.
They are the girls from the hood, from working class families and township communities. They attended township schools. They play for a township cricket club. They held onto their opportunity to play cricket and never let it go.
Today, both Nondumiso Shangase and Nonkuleleko Mlaba are in India with the South African women’s cricket team. They are excited, a little nervous and ready to have the bat and ball in their hands and discover more of their talent, their playing quality and worth in international cricket.

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