The search for the lost Dane: Dane van Niekerk’s emotional journey back to cricket

The Royal Challengers Bangalore player claims, “I’m not here to prove to anyone that I ought to have competed in the World Cup; I want to find myself and appreciate cricket again.”

Dane van Niekerk is eager to rediscover her true self, which she may have lost during a tumultuous year, by returning to competitive cricket. While participating in the Women’s Premier League as a member of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, she expressed her desire to simply “get back into it.” After enduring numerous challenges, van Niekerk is seeking to reclaim the confident and bold version of herself and rediscover the fearless spirit that once defined her game.

espncricinfo In September 2021, Dane van Niekerk last participated in a major competition

“You stop enjoying the game as much when you experience these draining moments. As a bowler, everyone advises you to stop playing if you aren’t having fun. I’m not there yet. But, to be completely honest, I want to rediscover that love, that fun element, and, most importantly, that Dane.”

Van Niekerk had to face a setback when she could not play in the Royal Challengers’ opening match against the Delhi Capitals. However, she expressed her gratitude towards the team’s management for their understanding and support during her comeback. Van Niekerk emphasized that she did not want to put any undue pressure on herself and that her priority was to rediscover her passion for cricket. She added that she was not interested in dwelling on missed opportunities and wanted to focus on enjoying the game.

Dane van Niekerk opted out of the Royal Challengers’ first game, a defeat to the Delhi Capitals, and expressed that she didn’t want to burden herself with pressure when she eventually got the chance to play. “I believe this is the perfect place to do it [play without any inhibitions]. The RCB management, as well as everyone involved, have been extremely supportive, and they empathize with my situation and experiences. This sense of value that they have given me makes a significant difference, particularly considering the limited international cricket I’ve played.”

Van Niekerk emphasized that she doesn’t want to burden herself with any expectations or comparisons to her past performances. She stated that her aim is to rediscover her form and relish playing cricket once again, rather than prove her worth or showcase her skills to others. The focus is solely on her personal journey of self-discovery and enjoying the sport.

Van Niekerk: “South African women’s cricket is moving in the correct direction.”

While South Africa may have fallen short in the T20 World Cup final against Australia, there were still positive moments for the team to celebrate. This was the first time a South African team, either men’s or women’s, had reached the final of a senior World Cup. Furthermore, the final match at Newlands drew a record crowd of 12,782 people, the highest attendance for a women’s cricket match in the country. With interest in women’s cricket on the rise, Van Niekerk expressed her hope that the cricket board would capitalize on this momentum and shift its focus towards improving domestic cricket.

“I believe I want to ask her some questions. I didn’t view the game in that light when I was that age. She is undoubtedly someone I want to get to know better so I can learn more about her opinions and feelings.”
Regarding competing for Smriti Mandhana, Dane van Niekerk

She remarked that the timing of the South African team’s making the final was excellent. “The enthusiasm was undoubtedly sparked by the hype surrounding women’s cricket in South Africa and the subsequent WPL. It’s thrilling that South Africa is now a nation that enjoys women’s cricket. I’m hoping that now that the WPL has begun, there will soon be a desire for a domestic league in South Africa. We still have a lot of work to do, but women’s cricket in our nation is moving in the correct direction. Hopefully, this will increase demand for women’s cricket and a professional league and push for the professionalization of all aspects of South Africa’s domestic cricket.”

Van Niekerk expressed her excitement about the participation of her fellow South African cricketers in the WPL, including Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, and Chloe Tryon. She wished them the best and hoped that they would continue to perform as well as they did in the T20 World Cup. Van Niekerk also expressed her desire for more South African cricketers to participate in the WPL and hoped that this would help strengthen South African cricket.

Van Niekerk expressed her admiration for the captain of the Royal Challengers, Smriti Mandhana, whom she considers one of the most accomplished players on the team despite her young age. Van Niekerk was impressed by Mandhana’s composure at the crease and her achievements in the sport. Van Niekerk also revealed her desire to learn from Mandhana and pick her brain, as she believes Mandhana has a unique perspective on the game that could be valuable to her.

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