The Spar South African netball team leave next week for Kingston, for a tri-nations series against Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, fresh from the triumph of their comprehensive three-nil clean sweep in the three-Test series against Barbados in Cape Town last week.
A 15-member squad was picked for the Barbados series to give coach Carin Strauss and the selectors the opportunity to see South Africa’s top players in action and to try out various combinations. The outstanding performers in the series against Barbados included goal shooters Tsakane Mbewe, Mary Ngwenya and Claudia Basson, giving Strauss the option of mixing and matching in the circle as much as is necessary.
Goal defence Simone van Heerden, who was a late inclusion in the squad, seized the opportunity with both hands and played herself into the touring squad.
Liezel Wium – the most experienced member of the South African squad, with more than 40 international caps and two years of professional netball in New Zealand – has been retained as captain, with Precious Mthembu as vice captain. The team selected for the tour is very young, although many of the players have international experience at Under21 level.
“The Jamaica tour will give us invaluable experience,” said Strauss. “Our main aim is to beat Trinidad and Tobago, who are ranked one above us, at number eight. Jamaica will be our toughest competition, as they are ranked fourth in the world, have a shooter who is 1,94m tall and two of their players played for Australian franchises in the ANZ Championships this year.
“We will have to step up a gear just to be competitive against Jamaica, but with all the confidence we have gained from the Barbados series, the team is focused and confident of doing well in Jamaica. The tournament also gives our players another chance to prove they have the ability to play in the international arena.”
South African team: Zukelwa Cwaba, Precious Mthembu (VC), Tsakane Mbewe, Erin Burger, Claudia Basson, Liezel Wium (Captain), Zanele Mdodane, Amanda Mynhardt, Mary Ngwenya, Nontle Gwavu, Simone van Heerden and Refiloe Mochaka.