London — A change of scenery is generally a good thing‚ but SA could have done without their Women’s World Cup campaign moving to Taunton for a match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
"It’s slightly different, but fortunately we had some [practice] strips on the field, so we got used to what conditions might be like‚" Mignon du Preez said after the South Africans’ first training session at County Ground.
"Our main aim was to make sure we get a feel of what the ground is like and what the pitch is like‚ and to see the different angles and how the wind’s blowing.
"We’re still finding our feet but I think we’ve got the worst out of the way.
"[The pitch] seems like it’s going to be a bit slower than what we’ve played on previously," she said.
SA’s first five matches in the tournament were in Leicester‚ Derby and Bristol — where they suffered their only loss‚ to England last Wednesday.
But they bounced back with a strong performance against India in Leicester on Saturday‚ when they won by 115 runs.
Another victory on Wednesday will make the South Africans serious contenders for a place in the semifinals.
The fact that Sri Lanka have lost all five of their games would seem to shorten the odds on another South African win. But it also means the Lankans will be desperate for a victory.
The South Africans took their minds off all that after a trip of almost 300km from Leicester in England’s east midlands to Taunton in the southwest of the country on Sunday.
"We bought some snacks and we had a bit of a movie night‚" Du Preez said. "It was good to get some of the travel out after a long bus trip."
Du Preez said the squad’s togetherness was not forced.
"There’s something different this time‚" she said‚ and she should know as a stalwart of 103 one-day internationals‚ two previous World Cups and two other qualifiers for the tournament.
"We’ve prepared like professionals‚ and we feel like family.
"We’re really enjoying each others’ company."
And that’s showing on the field‚ where opening batsman Lizelle Lee has reeled off three half-centuries in four innings and — discounting Tuesday’s game between Pakistan and West Indies — was fourth among the run scorers.
Also without factoring in Tuesday’s match‚ legspinner Dane van Niekerk was the tournament’s leading bowler with nine wickets at an average of 6.66 and an economy rate of 2.68. Fast bowler Marizanne Kapp was third on that list‚ also with nine scalps, taken at an average of 18.88.
After a shaky first match against Pakistan‚ when they suffered three run-outs before winning, SA have now gained in confidence.