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The South African women’s cricket team captain Dane van Niekerk will not feature in the upcoming Women's T20 World Cup after failing a key fitness test.
The 29-year-old is one of the key components of the Proteas side, and is one of the best players in the world. But she will miss the short format’s showpiece event after failing to meet the required time for a two-kilometre run. Van Niekerk posted a message on social media to say that she was "absolutely broken" to miss the event, of which South Africa are the hosts.
The skipper has not played international cricket since September 2021, but was part of the Oval Invincibles side that won The Hundred last summer. Selector Clinton du Preez explained the decision to omit Van Niekerk from the squad. "Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria for the fitness benchmark," he said.
"Many other players have gone down this route, everyone is quite familiar with the situation and what is required. In December, we set it out clearly with where she needs to be. Dane will always be missed on the cricket field. We have reminded her of that. We also appreciate the effort she tried to put into meeting the fitness level."
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The decision was slammed by some, including legendary South Africa bowler Dale Steyn, who did not hold back with his assessment. “Oh f**k, I missed my 2km time by seconds, must mean I’m s**t,” he tweeted.
Sune Luus will captain the side in Van Niekerk's absence while her wife and fellow star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp has been named in the squad. Van Niekerk is the only South African female cricketer to have scored more than 1,500 runs and taken more than 50 wickets in women's T20 internationals.
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Her supreme ability and leadership will be sorely missed at the T20 World Cup, which they have yet to win and were semi-finalists at the previous edition in 2020, where they were knocked out by eventual champions Australia.
They will also be without the services of destructive opening batter Lizelle Lee, who retired from international cricket last summer.
She claimed that failing a weight test was a "significant factor" in her decision to step away. "I made fitness physically, I did the running that I had to do," she told BBC podcast Stumped.
"I got dropped because of my weight and I told them, you're dropping me because of the way I look and how much I weigh.
"They said, no, we're dropping you because you failed the fitness battery. I said, yes, but if you break the fitness battery down, what did I not make? I made the fitness, the running, but not the weight. So you're dropping me because of weight. As a woman that breaks me."
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