Titans batter Sunette Viljoen
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- Proteas women’s coach Hilton Moreeng says that former Olympian Sunette Viljoen could potentially get called up and return to the national side.
- The 39-year-old has been in sublime form for the Titans Ladies since hanging up her javelin and returning to professional cricket.
- The Proteas women will only return in January with players hoping to stake their claim in the domestic season ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Proteas head coach Hilton Moreeng did not close the door on Olympian Sunette Viljoen’s potential call-up to the national squad.
Viljoen, who represented South Africa at four Olympic Games, has been in splendid form in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) ongoing Women’s Provincial series.
The 39-year-old returned to professional cricket after representing the Proteas from 2000 to 2002, playing a Test and 17 ODIs for South Africa.
Viljoen then turned her attention to the track and field and represented South Africa in the javelin, claiming a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and sealing four Commonwealth Games medals.
Since stepping down from athletes in 2019, Viljoen has now returned to the cricket field and this time, has made her name for herself with the Titans Ladies.
In September, Titans Ladies opener Viljoen notched up a T20 half-century against Western Province as she scored 65 off 59 balls.
So far, Viljoen is the third-highest run-scorer in the one-day competition, making 133 runs in three games with an average of 44.33.
The Proteas women completed a national camp as they prepare to host the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup.
Earlier this year, Viljoen expressed a desire to make her return to the Proteas women’s set-up ahead of the global showpiece.
When asked whether Viljoen could be called up, Moreeng stated that if the Olympian continued plying on the runs, she could receive the call-up.
“She has been putting in the performances and we’ve had a look into it. The door is never closed on some of those players, you never know it’s a T20 game, anything is possible,” the Proteas women’s coach told reporters on Tuesday.
Moreeng did say, however, that having young faces will is vital to building towards a future with the 2025 Women’s Cricket World Cup in India on the horizon.
“The most important thing for us is the ability you have, skill and the age is one of the things you can debate about,” said Moreeng.
“We’ve seen in T20 cricket you can be as old as you can be, but it’s about how effective you can be on the day. When you bring something different environment that you have and the players you identify.”
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The Proteas and an extended squad of 25 are in East London for a training camp from 1-10 November ahead of South Africa hosting the U19 Women’s World Cup and T20 World Cup.
The East London camp has seen the return of captain Dané van Niekerk, Ayabonga Khaka, Trisha Chetty, Tumi Sekhukhune and Anneke Bosch who make their way back from injuries.
The expanded group also includes a cluster of uncapped high-performance and domestic players such as Nobulumko Baneti, Micaéla Andrews, Eliz-Mari Marx, Palesa Mapoo and Lerato Langa.
Moreeng insists that there still are spots open in the Proteas women’s side before their international return in January.
“Yes since we’ve been back, we had an opportunity to go around and also within our camps. We invited some of those players that have been performing to see how they’ve been going and we test them against the skills that we have here.
“So we can see how they manage and adapt to their new environments. Yes, we have selectors around the country. With the help of our high-performance coach Dinesha (Devnarain), we’re in constant communication and we have selectors throughout the country.
“If they do, some see talent and potentially do advise us that there’s one or two girls that there’s a potential. Maybe you can look into so. There’s always somebody looking as always, someone watching.”
The Proteas women only return to action in January when they host a tri-series against West Indies and India in preparation for the T20 World Cup.
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