The skillful Momentum Proteas fast bowler, Masabata Klaas is in the midst of her 10th full season as a capped national player, having experienced the team’s evolution from a developing nation to becoming a professionalized unit and a forced to be reckoned with in women’s crocket.
Speaking from the team’s recent national training camp held at St George’s Park in Gqeberha between 13 – 19 October, Klaas highlighted the straightforward but significant changes the game and the team have made since the 31-year-old made her South African debut in 2010.
“A lot has changed,” Klaas noted.
“Why I say that is because back then there were no contracts and there were no televised games but from then until now, our parents and our nation can at least watch us on TV.
“We now have income, even though it is not where we want it to be, but we are getting there” she said.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) awarded the first six national contracts for the Proteas Women in 2013 and although Klaas was not part of the initial group of players, her game was positively impacted by the overall professionalization of the set-up.
Even after she took time away from cricket to raise her daughter who was also born in 2013.
“To be honest, because now they are looking after us, I am not saying they never looked after us, but now things have changed. We have medicals, we have to go see physios if we are sick and we have access to the gym,” she continued.
“I must say, my game has changed a lot. I still remember in 2010 when I made my debut, you know that nerve-wracking (feeling) when you are in a new environment, but in this team, we are one family, and we are sisters.
“They accepted me like I am one of them and from there, my game has been improving because I can go to the coaches if I have something to ask and they help me out so that my game improves every game.
“That one percent improvement needs to be there,” Klaas added.
With Klaas having bowled her first ball in international cricket in the 2010 ICC Women’s Cricket Challenge held in Potchefstroom, the Botshabelo-born cricketer has since amassed 105 (58 ODIs, 47 T20Is) caps for South Africa, taking 53 wickets in the One-Day format, with a further 26 in T20Is.
Whilst she still has a lot to offer the badge, Klaas is already enjoying the transferring of her knowledge to the younger players in the group, including the SA U19 Women rising stars.
“I must say, it is good to be back, especially with the young ones because as you know, in all of this, you need to take care of the young ones.
“It has been a nice camp and good preparation going forward.” Klaas said during the first camp back since the extensive tours to Ireland and Ireland, which also featured the Commonwealth Games in August
“At first, when you start to get to know them (the youngsters), it is kind of a bit difficult but because we are doing what we love, it’s so easy and they give you that thing of you can go to them and help them out,” she added.
It’s an especially exciting season for South African women’s cricket, with both the SA U19s and senior Proteas set to host ICC T20 World Cups in January and February 2023.
Klaas couldn’t hide her enthusiasm ahead of the major tournament on home soil, sharing her views on the team’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup ambitions as well as a passionate rallying call for South African support.
“I am so happy. I am so happy in a way that I don’t know what to do but I am happy because the preparation has been coming right,” the right-arm bowler commented.
“It will be the first (T20) World Cup at home for women’s cricket. It is going to be nice, and I can’t wait for it.
“Obviously, we have been coming short in a lot of big tournaments, like World Cups, where we’ve been pushing until the semi-finals, but we never went through to the finals so I would say now everybody is thinking about winning the World Cup because we owe it to ourselves.
“This is our first World Cup at home, I would say they must come in numbers because we are going to show them who we are.
“We are the Momentum Proteas, and we are going to show them that this World Cup is going to be ours,” she concluded.
Klaas will next be in action this weekend between 29 – 30 October for the North West Dragons in the latest rounds of the 2022 / 23 CSA Women’s Provincial One-Day Cup and T20 Cup.