Sune Luus had not had a great tour of England up until today. Once a leg-spinner who could bat a bit, she hardly bowls any more and is now in the side primarily for her batting, but with the bat on this tour before today, she had 3 ducks and had a highest score of 3 not-out – when she came to the crease, the England bowlers must have been thinking “walking wicket”, and not without reason!
“It hasn’t been a great tour,” Luus admits. “But it is really important to always stay in a positive mindset – I think on a tour like this you can’t lose your head!”
With England perhaps 10-20 short of a “good” score – Anya Shrubsole reckoned 170-180 was par the other day, though it isn’t quite such a road today – the South Africans had definitely given themselves a shot by restricting England to 160.
The early loss of Wolvaardt for a duck in the first over brought Luus to the crease early; but actually even earlier than she had been anticipating coming into the match – Stacy Lackay was due to come in at 3, but when she was taken poorly Luus found herself unexpectedly promoted and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Luus and for South Africa.
“I was due to come in at 7 or 8 but Stacey was ill – I’ve always been on my best when I don’t know I’m batting 3, so I think we need to do that more often – just don’t tell me!!”
So what did she do differently?
“Nothing special,” she says, “just focusing more!”
Luus and Lizelle Lee took South Africa past the hundred mark, never letting the required rate get away from them. They rotated the strike almost perfectly, Luus facing just one ball less than Lee going into the 13th over, but it was Lee who was doing the bulk of the scoring – 68 off 36 balls, to Luus’ 40 off 35.
Did that mean the pressure was on when Lee was dismissed on Anya Shrubsole’s return to the attack?
“No,” she says. “It is really important to back the players who are coming in next or you are going to put all the pressure on yourself and get bogged down and won’t get runs.”
And mentally freeing herself from that pressure seems to have worked a wonder – her strike rate went from 114 before Lee was out to 135 after, and even though Sophie Ecclestone produced a bit of a wonder-over, taking 3-2 in the 18th, Luus brought it home to finish the job by hitting Katherine Brunt for 4-4-6 in the 20th.
“I just stayed positive throughout this tour,” Luus concludes. “And I’m lucky it came off today.”
And perhaps she did get a little lucky – she was dropped on 25 by Jenny Gunn, and there was a big LBW shout to Hazell which TV showed was going to hit the stumps.
But T20 cricket can be very much about riding your luck – you still have to make that luck count, and Sune Luus did that here at Taunton to keep South Africa in with a shout in this Tri-Series.