JOHANNESBURG – The days leading up to Sunday’s second T20 international against Sri Lanka had not been easy for Sune Luus.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” she remarked after her Player-of-the-Match performance that helped South Africa wrap up the series with one game to spare.
Luus had not been part of the original squad for the series, with the selectors describing her performances last year as “disappointing,” adding that she needed to improve with both bat and ball.
Then Chloe Tryon was ruled out with a groin injury before the series, and Luus was recalled to the squad, although she didn’t play the first match.
“I chatted to (Proteas assistant coach) Salieg Nackerdien last week and I asked him how I should go about it (on Sunday). You feel there is a lot of pressure on you, everyone is watching you and I don’t want to add pressure to myself; he just said ‘you’ve been dropped already, it can’t get worse, just go out there and enjoy yourself and play the way you play,’’’ Luus said.
Luus finished with 5/14 in 3.4 overs, helping to bowl Sri Lanka out for just 105.
SA made heavy weather of the chase, with Luus contributing just five as the home team picked up the win with two wickets in hand and one ball to spare. But Luus could walk away with a smile on her face, and her confidence boosted.
“My bowling, that was more the Sune I want to show the world, there’ll be more of that if I get another opportunity,” she said.
Luus has always been the smiley, happy face of the Proteas team since making her debut as a 16-year-old in 2012. She established herself as an attacking leg-spinner who could bat a bit, but as she gained more caps, so the coaches and selectors demanded more.
Last year in particular, which was a difficult one for the team, Luus failed to deliver on a consistent basis. And with the selectors looking to give a few younger players a go before the bigger series later this year, Luus was dropped for the matches against Sri Lanka.
It was a tough pill to swallow, especially as she had just returned from Australia where she was part of the Brisbane Heat’s victorious Women’s Big Bash League campaign. She was largely on the periphery, playing just nine matches in which she scored 27 runs in five innings and claiming five wickets, but the experience was invaluable for the 23-year-old.
“Even not playing, the Big Bash was a great experience, being a part of my first one and winning it was pretty great. The way everyone carries themselves and the work ethic at provincial level already was eye opening,” said Luus.
“You learn a lot, you play against the best in the world; Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry, and coming from that you get so much more experience.
“I had a chat with our youngsters and said ‘we are going to change, we are going to work extra hard, this is the standard we need to set.’ There’s not just training when you have to, you have to do extra, you have to walk the extra mile to be the best in the world.”
SA play the final T20 match of the series against Sri Lanka at Centurion tomorrow. Thereafter they face the Sri Lankans in three ODIs which form part of the ICC Women’s Championship. Points earned there – for each match – will count towards automatic qualification for the 2021 World Cup.