Sune Luus
Sune Luus would be the first captain, male or female, to lead South Africa into a major final if they beat England

South Africa captain Sune Luus has called for the ‘perfect game’ from her side as they target an historic appearance in Sunday’s final of the Women’s T20 World Cup in Cape Town.

Neither the men’s nor women’s team have reached the final of a limited overs World Cup despite amassing a total of 11 semi-final appearances between them.

Standing in the way of history on Friday are England – a team that have previously beaten South Africa’s women three times in the last four of major competitions.

“We’re searching for that perfect game where all three aspects click and work together nicely,” Luus said.

“It’s going to be a big occasion but we’ve been on the other side of it too many times so know exactly what it feels like.

“In our (team) meeting we said we know how it feels on the other side and we don’t want to be there again, so there’s enough motivation to go out and enjoy the game – nothing to lose.

“We’re just going to try to play our best cricket and try to enjoy the moment as well.”

The high and the low road to Cape Town

The English have cruised to this stage with victory in all four of their games while the tournament hosts have been beaten by both Sri Lanka and Australia.

In between those losses came a tight victory against New Zealand while the final group game saw the South African batters start nervously in pursuit of Bangladesh’s 113-6.

But the Proteas’ opening pair of Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits picked up the pace in the second half of the innings for a ten-wicket win against the winless Bangladeshis.

“We knew the stakes for that game but, after the first 10 overs, the way the two batters out there went about the chase, that’s the way we want to start (against England),” outlined the skipper.

“It’s a home semi-final and it’s the first time the crowd is going to be for us and not against us (in a semi-final), so very much excited and can’t wait to take the field.

“It’s always a great honour to be in a semi-final. It was hard work to get into (it), so really proud of the girls.”

History is against South Africa

The semi-final hoodoo has long hung over the African nation, with the most galling semi-final exit coming at the 1999 Men’s Cricket World Cup when a final-over run-out meant they tied with Australia and were eliminated on head-to-head record.

The Proteas men’s team also suffered defeat by England in 1992 after rain interrupted with South Africa needing 22 off 13 balls which became 21 of one ball when play resumed.

The women’s side have experienced the heartbreak of a last-four exit on five occasions – with Australia the other side adding to the three defeats against England.

The most recent of all those many semi-final defeats saw England triumph against England at the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand last year.

If they do break the hoodoo, then awaiting them is the small matter of an Australia side who reached their seventh consecutive Women’s T20 World Cup final with victory against India on Thursday.

The facts and figures

Analysis by leading cricket statistician Andrew Samson:

“South Africa do have two ICC trophies to their name: the ICC Knockout in 1998 (the tournament that evolved into the Champions Trophy) and the Under-19 World Cup in 2014.

“However, in the senior World Cups they haven’t even reached a final in 31 years of trying.

“While the men have often gone into semi-finals with expectations high, the women have been underdogs each time.

“They did well to run England close in the 50-over edition in 2017 (losing by two wickets with two balls to spare) and also Australia at the 2020 T20 (losing by five runs in a rain-reduced affair).

“The men, on the other hand, have generally had close-run and sometimes desperate defeats, one of which saw New Zealand hit a six off the penultimate ball to seal victory.

“The lowest semi-final winning percentage, above South Africa’s 0.00%, is New Zealand’s 36.84% with seven wins in 19 matches.

“Perhaps home advantage might work in South Africa’s favour; this is the fourth World Cup hosted in the country – but it is the first time the hosts have advanced as far as the semi-finals.

“Maybe a final is at last on the cards at the 12th time of trying.”