Liverpool, United Kingdom – The most experienced Protea team ever. This is the little bit of history that was created on Sunday in the opening match of the 2019 Quad Series in Liverpool. South Africa went down by 45-62, which is the same goal difference as the previous encounter back in September last year.
South Africa started the match with a combined total of 568 tests caps between the 12 players that were chosen for the encounter. That is an average of 47.3 per player. It surpassed the previous record of 560 that they started the final match in the Diamond Challenge with on the 1st of December.
Never before has the national netball team had such a large group of players who have played together for so long. Apart from the two centurions, Erin Burger (now 113 caps) and Maryka Holtzhausen (104), four other players – Bongi Msomi (94), Karla Pretorius (78), Lenize Potgieter (54) and Phumza Maweni (54) – have passed the 50-mark. If Precious Mthembu (92 appearances) wasn’t injured, the figure would have been much higher. Burger is the most capped Protea player in the history, followed by Holtzhausen and Msomi.
The Proteas have come a long way since the World Cup in Christchurch 20 years ago when the team’s total caps were only 260. When the Proteas toured Europe in January 2007, only three players – Sindi Gumede (42), Karin Venter (36) and Leigh-Ann Smal (27) – had more than 25 caps behind their names. And a year later, Liezel Wium, former Protea skipper, was the most experienced player with 40 tests.