A bitter-sweet night for Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk

Great partners: van Niekerk, right, has always brought out the best in Kapp.

Great partners: van Niekerk, right, has always brought out the best in Kapp.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

We often talk of mixed emotions. On Saturday night at Navi Mumbai’s D.Y. Patil Stadium, Marizanne Kapp must have experienced mixed emotions the way very few have.

She registered the best figures yet of the Women’s Premier League — five for 15 — with an exhibition of top quality seam bowling, willing the ball to behave to her liking.

Watching her bowl that spell for Delhi Capitals against Gujarat Giants was her wife and fellow South African all-rounder Dane van Niekerk, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore. There is nothing like performing at your best in front of your most loved one. But, it was also the night van Niekerk hinted on social media that she was retiring from international cricket. Kapp was heartbroken.

“Sometimes it feels like I am the one who’s retiring, just so heartbreaking,” she said. “We’ve grown up in the South Africa team. It was difficult to hear the decision.”

It is not difficult to understand why van Niekerk, who is only 29 and was South Africa captain till recently, decided to quit international cricket. She was dropped from the team for the T20 World Cup at home.

Talking to The Hindu here a few days ago, van Niekerk, who has to her credit 4,052 runs and 203 wickets in international white-ball cricket, admitted she had not quite recovered from the shock of being omitted after failing a fitness test — by 18 seconds. “It was the biggest shock of my life,” she said. “Yes, I get the rules and regulations (regarding fitness) but as a human being I felt that tactically, and with my skills, I could have helped the team.”

How did she cope with it?

“It broke me,” she said, managing a smile still. “I don’t think I have been able to cope with it. I am happy that South Africa went all the way to the final, beating expectations. The tournament changed women’s sport in South Africa. Sitting in Bangalore, I cried when they reached the final. It was a dream of mine to play in front of my home crowd.”

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