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Marizanne Kapp absence did not affect South Africa – Masabata Klaas

South Africa’s hopes of a major upset in their first Test against Australia were rocked when Kapp was ruled out due to illness. She had been absent from training in the lead-up to the match, but was expected to play. The South Africa camp had hoped she could pull through on match day, but she did not feel well enough. “We only found out when we had to play that she’s not going to play,” Klaas told reporters after day one of the Test.

After being sent in to bat, South Africa’s batting wilted against sustained pressure from Australia’s quicks, who bowled a disciplined line outside off stump that had batters perishing to loose shots. Without the mighty presence of Kapp, South Africa lost eight wickets in a humiliating first session before being routed for just 76 in their lowest ever Test score in an innings that lasted 31.2 overs.

“I don’t think so,” Klaas said when asked if South Africa were rattled in the wake of Kapp’s absence. “We’re confident enough and have a strong batting line-up, so I won’t say that her not being here affected the team.”

While it was a difficult day for South Africa, Klaas was a shining light on her debut as she ripped open Australia’s top order by dismissing Phoebe Litchfield, Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath cheaply. Her performance earned praise from Kapp, who also voiced on social media her lament that South Africa did not select young quick Eliz-mari Marx.

Learning from the success of Australia’s quicks, Klaas continued the strong form she had showed during the white-ball series, where South Africa enjoyed historic first victories over Australia in the T20I and ODI formats.

“I watched the Australian bowlers, and I saw that there was something on this pitch. So I said to myself, ‘I’m gonna make use of it’,” she said. “So I went out there with a positive mindset of hitting my line and lengths, so that worked for me.”

Despite Klaas’ heroics, South Africa started wilting in oppressive conditions as they went through the motions in the back end of the day’s play. But the late wickets of Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy, who fell in the penultimate over before stumps for 99, has given South Africa faint hope of igniting a comeback.

“Her [Healy’s] wicket was a game-changer, but we have to come back… we still have another five wickets to take tomorrow,” Klaas said. “The more you are in, the easier it is [to bat]. [The batters need to] stay longer at the pitch.”

Brown: Anything can happen on ‘bowler-friendly wicket’

Boasting a lead of 175 runs with five wickets in hand, Australia are in firm control, and there is the prospect of the match lasting just two days in what would be an anti-climax after the absorbing white-ball series.

“I think it should be a really interesting day tomorrow,” quick Darcie Brown, who took 5 for 21, said. “It’s a bowler-friendly wicket, so anything can happen.”

Brown was the standout with her first five-wicket haul in Test cricket, and her fiery bowling was tailor made for a green-tinged surface that fittingly offered plenty for the quicks in Test cricket’s return to the WACA. She was also constantly armed with a packed slips cordon to rekindle images of lore on the famous ground.

“I had a moment where I was like ‘This is so cool’ just looking at all the slips,” Brown said. “I’ve never bowled with a seven-two [field]… only two on the leg side. It was an amazing moment.”

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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