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Enjoy and love the competition and the challenging of each other that exists in T20 cricket: Mlaba

Johannesburg, Sep 28 (IANS) South Africa women’s left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba believes T20 cricket brings the best out of her as she enjoys and loves the competition as well as challenging each other in the shortest format of the game.

This year, she has played in seven T20Is against Ireland, England as well as in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games campaign, taking nine wickets at an average of 16.33, including a career-best return of three for 22 against England at Derbyshire.

“T20 is my favourite format. I enjoy it, and I love the competition and the challenging of each other that exists. Whenever I play, I make sure that it’s like a challenge, so I enjoy it. When I play T20 cricket, it reminds me of club cricket.”

“In club cricket, we used to play T20s most of the time, so I used that momentum and carried it into my career where I always want to challenge myself and everyone, even in the nets with the batters,” said Nonkululeko in an official release.

As the Proteas’ frontline spin bowler in the format throughout the year, Nonkululeko, affectionately known as ‘Leftie’ has made her way back into the top 10 of the ICC Women’s T20I bowler rankings, making it as high as seventh place before settling in at eighth in the latest standings.

“I am very happy about being in the top 10. It’s not the first time I am in the top 10, I was there after the T20 World Cup (in 2020) but being able to get back into the top 10 shows how hard I have worked. I want to continue going and hopefully even make the number one spot,” noted the left-arm spinner.

Considering her standout performances for Proteas Women in her young career so far, Nonkululeko received the Makhaya Ntini Power of Cricket accolade at the recent CSA Awards. This award serves to demonstrate the life-changing ability that cricket has in lives and communities.

Her rapid rise, from only beginning to play cricket at the age of 14 after seeing her brother and sister take up the sport, to becoming amongst the very best spinners in the women’s game in the span of six years, is the perfect illustration of how the game has impacted her life. At the end of the 2021/22 season, Nonkululeko was also handed a national contract too.

“At the end of the day, all that I have is through cricket. I can say that cricket has allowed me to help fix up my family home, we are now living in a better and warmer home and that was through cricket. Even my place near the stadium, I have it through cricket.”

“This contract has motivated me to continue working harder and know that all that I have been doing is why I will not stop now. It also shows that this is just the beginning, and it doesn’t end here.”

“Getting a contract, it doesn’t stop there. This gives me the confidence that I can continue working and end up playing overseas in other international tournaments as well,” added Nonkululeko.

South Africa’s next big assignment will be the 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup, with the showpiece event being held at home across three venues in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl, with a place in their maiden World Cup final being the main target.

On a personal note, she concluded by hoping to play an integral role in the team and the competition on home soil. “I want to be the leading wicket-taker and most importantly, help the team win.”

–IANS

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