Luus steps down as South Africa captain ahead of Pakistan tour

Sune Luus has stepped down as South Africa’s captain, less than six months after leading the team to their first senior World Cup final – for women or men – with CSA set to unveil a new leader ahead of their white-ball tour of Pakistan in two weeks’ time. Luus is part of the squad, with Laura Wolvaardt the favourite to replace her.
Confusion surrounds Luus’ decision, for which no reason was initially given in a press release issued by CSA. It read that Luus “will no longer continue her interim captaincy”, even though Luus had herself said she was “appointed official captain” prior to the T20 World Cup in February. A senior official at CSA told ESPNcricinfo that the board “understood Sune was given the captaincy permanently”, with Chloe Tryon as her understudy.

After ESPNcricinfo first published this story, a CSA spokesperson said Luus had “asked to step aside to focus on her cricket.” The same reason was not made public on any CSA channels.

Privately, it has been communicated that Luus does not want to lead under the existing management structure.

Tryon will not travel to Pakistan after requesting a “leave of absence”, according to CSA, which further underlines what several sources have called “significant challenges” facing the women’s team. Chief among them is an unhappiness in the squad with the decision not to appoint a new coach after the T20 World Cup, with Hilton Moreeng now in his 11th year in the job.

Moreeng had been informed that CSA was going to advertise his post this winter, which he was welcome to reapply for, but that did not happen. Instead Moreeng’s tenure has been extended until December 31, and he will oversee South Africa’s series against Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Last week, ESPNcricinfo reported that a group of players had written to CSA expressing their desire for change in the backroom staff. It is understood that while the players do not have a personal issue with Moreeng, they are looking for a different approach and fresh ideas after more than a decade of development under Moreeng.

In that time, he presided over the professionalisation of the women’s game and took the team to the last two 50-overs World Cup semi-finals and the most recent T20 World Cup final. His success is believed to be a reason why a section of the CSA board has pushed for him to continue, and neglected to seek a replacement over the off-season.

Similarly, CSA did not hold any camps for their women’s team from the end of the World Cup until earlier this week, though several players have been involved in overseas leagues. They also did not have any discussions over the captaincy, leading to an 11th hour appointment ahead of the Pakistan series. One source said “someone has dropped the ball” when it comes to the women’s game and there was a lack of focus on this area of the game after the highs of the team’s T20 World Cup performance.

The bulk of the squad who will travel to Pakistan – 12 of the 15 – were part of the T20 World Cup group. Tumi Sekhukhune has replaced Shabnim Ismail, who retired from international cricket in May, allrounder Nondumiso Shangase, who captains the Dolphins, is back in the squad, and there is one uncapped player: wicketkeeper-batter Meike de Ridder. Tryon and Annerie Derksen, who is recovering from a fractured finger, are the two other players from the T20 World Cup who are not in this squad.

South Africa will play three T20Is and three ODIs in Pakistan between September 1 and 14. The ODIs are part of the ICC Women’s Championship, which determines qualification for the next World Cup.

South Africa squad: Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Mieke de Ridder, Lara Goodall, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Delmi Tucker, Laura Wolvaardt.

GMT 1510 The article was updated to reflect the CSA spokesperson’s statement on Luus stepping down.

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