Cape Town, Oct 5 (IANS) South Africa women’s top-order batter Lara Goodall eagerly excited for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of representing her country in the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup that will be hosted on home soil from February 10-26 next year.
Lara is especially excited about the possibility of featuring in the opening match against Sri Lanka on Friday, 10 February taking place at the Newlands Cricket Ground, a place the left-hander calls home.
“I don’t think it has actually sunk in yet. It’s something that we’ve been preparing for, for quite a while. We have just been preparing like it is a normal World Cup, but it is one on home soil and luckily for me, it is my home ground.”
“The opening game is at Newlands, and I have grown up in Cape Town, I lived here all my life and to be able to say I have played a World Cup game on home soil will mean a lot to me and my family, it’s such a big occasion,” said Lara during the fixture and ticket sales launch of the tournament.
Lara has enjoyed a fruitful year in T20Is for South Africa, recording her maiden half-century during a three-match series against Ireland earlier in the year before going onto notch up 144 runs in six innings at a positive strike rate of 127.43. She was also a part of the historic Commonwealth Games campaign in Birmingham for Team South Africa.
“To be part of any World Cup opening day is special and to be the home nation makes it even better. I am sure all the girls will try and get their families down as much as they can and just to be able to say you played in the first game of a World Cup is something that every cricketer dreams of.”
“To be able to do it at such a ground like Newlands Cricket Ground is unreal and it is really an experience that the girls will take in and remember for the rest of their lives,” added Lara.
Lara would be hoping to take that momentum into the global showpiece, with South Africa drawn in Group A alongside the defending champions, Australia as well as New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as they hope to secure another semi-final spot in a major competition.
“You know Australia are defending champions and they are probably the best team in the world, they have been for quite a long time, but you know playing at home, having home advantage on our side, we always feel like we have a chance. We had a good go at them in the semi-finals at the last T20 World Cup.”
“It is a tough group; we have seen New Zealand on their day can beat any team. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also teams that have played a lot of T20 World Cups and they are experienced in the format; they can do anything on the day. It can be pressure as well, but we just have to take it as an advantage and extra motivation to make South Africa proud.”
“We cannot play the opposition; we can just play the way we want to play and play to the best of our abilities. We know if we play to our strengths, we know we can beat any cricket side and having home fans and being able to play in front of everyone from South Africa will definitely be an advantage for us,” elaborated Lara.
Lara signed off by encouraging the South African public to show their support to the women’s team and welcome the world to their country, highlighting the double headers as an attractive element to the event.
“It’s simple, come and enjoy some cricket. I feel like there will be a lot of buzz around the game and there will be a lot to do at the game, so it is going to be fun, for kids especially. I would love to see thousands of kids at the game.”
“You don’t only get one game, you get two games for the price of one so that’s an added bonus and it’s a family outing, you can just come and enjoy; sit on the grass banks at Newlands and Paarl and enjoy the atmosphere, and experience something not everyone can say that they have,” she concluded.