Girls 19 & Under
South Africa v New Zealand
The inaugural Grand Final of this most impressive division, the 19 and Under Girls.
In its last two games, the New Zealand girls have defeated the previously undefeated South Africans and, in the Semi-Final, the highly fancied Australians. The New Zealand girls have by all accounts easily exceeded the more realistic expectations, and are now looking to repeat their last game against South Africa and go all the way.
South Africa, who have taken a huge risk by travelling with only 8 players, are hoping to regain their previous irresistable form and taking out the major prize. The girls represent the most realistic chance South Africa have of gaining a title, although their 19 and Under Boys are in their own Grand Final later today. And adding just a twist to the tale, Monique de Buys, the South African wicket-keeper and one of their more attacking batswomen, injured herself in the last game they played and isn't 100% fit for this game.
South African openers (de Buys/de Villiers) lost a wicket (runout)
in the first over, but recovered to record one of their characteristically
great starts, a partnership of 46. They lost one more wicket in the
fourth over, and de Buys cracked one 7.
New Zealand needed each partnership to average 46, a monumental task.
New Zealand innings began well (Nielson/O'Reilly), with no wickets
in the first three overs and a progressive score of 31 (which was
just 2 runs behind the South African's score at the same point in
their innings). A wicket (runout) in the fourth over, and the partnership
realised a very solid 37. New Zealand were still in the running, but
had to maintain 40+ partnerships.
The New Zealand Girls, as mentioned earlier, had exceeded all realistic expectation--well and truly exceeded them. Disappointment at losing the Grand Final will soon make way for pride in their achievement, and that's as it should be. Congratulations and well played New Zealand.
And South Africa. What a fantastic team, on and off the court. Their singing and chanting in support of all the other South African teams has been one of the many unforgettable memories of this tournament, and they contributed significantly to the atmosphere and excitement of the week. As they did on the court too. They are worthy winners, and they and the New Zealanders and Australians gave us the pick of the games overall (yes, even more exciting than the draw in the Over 35 Men in ours and most others' opinions).
South Africa are the inaugural 19 and Under World Champions. Congratulations South Africa, very, very well played.
And congratulations to all the 19 and Under teams, Boys and Girls, for a most impressive display.
The future of our sport is in good hands.