TSHWANE: The future of South Africa’s women’s cricket looks exceptionally bright as Six Gun Grill Garden Route Badgers and recently-capped Proteas Women all-rounder Annerie Dercksen hones her skills and prepares for the highly anticipated 2023/24 season at the CSA Women’s National Academy in Tshwane.
With an extensive training regimen and a hunger to succeed, the 22-year-old has made the most of the ongoing winter programme being held at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Centre of Excellence and will be looking to build on her three T20 International caps.
Reflecting on her experience at the National Academy, including the impact of SA U19 Women and Academy head coach, Dinesha Devnarain, Dercksen said: “It’s been absolutely amazing. We’ve had the privilege of having great management here along with some consultants to just dial in on the finer stuff that you need to work on during the off-season. I am really happy with what we have been putting in; working on batting, bowling, and some fielding specifics as well. Coach D (Dinesha) has really been hammering us to be specific in our sessions and I really enjoyed that.”
Balancing the roles of an all-rounder during pre-season can be challenging, but Annerie approaches it with determination and enthusiasm. She explained, “It’s a difficult one. There are certain stages where you focus on one more than the other, but fortunately, the coaches are always there to help you if you want some extra time, so I try to balance it and maybe get in an extra session if I feel like I haven’t done enough of the one.
“It is difficult to balance, but I enjoy it and I am just pushing on,” she added.
The CSA National Academy has emphasized the importance of self-awareness and challenging yourself, inspiring the Class of 2023 to work diligently to achieve peak performance.
“I like that Coach D challenges you, usually coaches just encourage you, but she gives you that kick up the backside and says: ‘Listen, this is unacceptable. There are standards you need to set for yourself’, so I have really enjoyed that; setting high standards and working towards achieving them.”
Dercksen’s passion for the sport and her commitment to personal growth have been evident throughout her young career, as the imposing but shy figure took the leap to move to the University of Free State for her studies before cementing her place in the Free State’s senior provincial ranks.
The Beaufort West-born youngster then moved back to her home province at the start of the 2022/23 season after the Garden Badgers achieved promotion to Division One, before the talented cricketer made her international bow during the T20I Tri-Series involving India and the West Indies. Dercksen’s debut came against the Windies at the Buffalo Park Cricket Ground in East London in January this year.
The right-armer went on to feature two more times for South Africa, including the victorious final over India before she was selected to be a part of the 15-player squad that reached a historic home final at the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – although not involved in the playing XI.
Hailing from a humble background, Derksen’s cricketing journey began on a farm, playing cricket with family, including her older brother Seppie, who influenced most of her childhood activities. Little did she know that this initial exposure to the sport would propel her to the grand stage of women’s international cricket.
Speaking about her aspirations, Annerie said, “Well, my brother told me if I ever get asked this question, I must say it was him as I grew up on a farm and everything he did, I had to do.
“When I grew up, I didn’t know women’s cricket existed for a long time, and I always just played cricket because I enjoyed it. I never really thought of it as a career or going to the World Cup, and towards the end of school I thought it would be nice – maybe one day – but I never put a timeline to it so when it happened it was like ‘Oh, okay!’
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet but it has been incredible.” she continued.
As the new campaign approaches, Annerie Dercksen sets her sights on performing exceptionally well at the domestic level and securing her position in the national squad once again.
“Everything has happened pretty quickly and it has been incredible to be a part of the environment. The goal for me will be performing provincially and trying to make my way into that squad again and if I get the opportunity to do so, (the aim) is just to learn as much as possible and maybe one day make my debut in the other formats as well.
“But, there’s a lot of hard work before that can happen and i am excited for the future,”