When asked how she is doing, Marizanne Kapp laughs in exasperation. I’m fine, she says after a while. There’s no denying that “the past few days and weeks have been difficult.”
The South African all-rounder, who is expected to play a major role in the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup, which begins on Friday against Sri Lanka, will do so under a cloud.
Dane van Niekerk, her wife and a former national team captain, was controversially cut from the squad due to a poor physical condition.
Marizanne Kapp was granted compassionate leave by Cricket South Africa (CSA), causing her to miss the final of the current tri-series against India. Despite this, South Africa still managed to win the series without her.
Kapp tweeted after the Van Niekerk revelation that she was “a wife FIRST and then a cricketer,” and she appreciated CSA for their compassion.
Marizanne Kapp, 33, adds, “I don’t think people know how emotionally challenging it can be for players.” “You already have your hands full just trying to play cricket, let alone win. I have a lot of skin in the game with this squad.
“I lost more than simply a friend and a talented teammate. My significant other will miss the home World Cup. The whole thing is very distressing.”
Marizanne Kapp has seen other members of a golden generation leave as well.
The formidable opening batter Lizelle Lee resigned from international cricket at the age of 29 during South Africa’s tour of England last year because she was afraid of being dropped and hence denied the opportunity to participate in global franchise competitions due to her own health concerns.
Longtime wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty was left off the last squad, and fellow former skipper Mignon du Preez was let go when she abandoned the 50-over format.
As Kapp freely admits, “these things have affected me immensely.” “You’re looking at the guys I’ve been playing with since I was a kid. My close companions. I have feelings for them.
“It’s tough when they depart. I’ve had moments where I wondered if I really wanted to keep on. The remaining veteran players are put under a lot of stress as a result. Occasionally, I’ve struggled to find my footing without them.”
But despite the setback, Van Niekerk is “fine,” according to Kapp.
The past 18 months have not been easy for the couple, who have both been sports legends for almost a decade.
As captain of the Oval Invincibles, Van Niekerk led his team to The Hundred championship glory in 2021, but he was forced to sit out of the 50-over World Cup in 2020 due to a fractured ankle.
Then, just before the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Marizanne Kapp pulled out of the competition to be with her brother-in-law, who had suffered severe burns to his face in an accident and was recovering in intensive care.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Kapp has also fought off four distinct attacks of Covid throughout that time.
Kapp admits, “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult,” before shifting the subject back to her husband.
“Dane has my deepest sympathies. To her ability, she devoted herself. It’s not like she didn’t put in a lot of effort. In July of last year, she began her training. But it’s tough to make up lost ground after an injury.”
Though Kapp wouldn’t come out and say whether or not she approves of the CSA’s rigorous fitness standards, which require players to complete a two-kilometer time trial in less than nine minutes and thirty seconds, she did wonder if there should be curated measures for individual players, which the CSA is currently looking into.
Marizanne Kapp argued that athletes should be treated as individuals. “If I had two months to meet the standard, I think I could achieve it.
“Dane, on the other hand, isn’t as physically fit as most athletes, so it can be more challenging for him. The more tests she took, the better she did. What a talented woman she is. A sad she wasn’t able to attend.
“She will be missed. For her strategies as well as her abilities. Not only is she my wife, but also the best captain I’ve ever played for. She has natural authority.”
South Africa’s slim chances of making it out of the group stage have evaporated without her.
In order to become the first team from their country to go to the knockout phase of a home tournament, they will have to defeat either the unstoppable Australians or a well-rounded New Zealand team.
The shape that Kapp is in is crucial. She feels that she was dealt a difficult hand on purpose, but that she has played her “best cricket” during this trying time.
Her firm belief in God, she believes, is what has saved her from floundering. “I’ve prayed every time I’ve considered giving up. There must be a purpose to all of these tests.
“I consider it a great honour to represent my country on the field. God has truly showered his favour upon me. Last year was the most challenging of my whole professional life. Everything off the pitch has been a shambles.
“However, I have done well on it. When I contribute to the success of my teammates, I succeed at a higher level. I believe that to be my ultimate goal.”