Marizanne Kapp on The Hundred & travelling the world playing cricket with her wife, Dane van Niekerk

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Marizanne Kapp running out Elyse Villani of Trent Rockets
Marizanne Kapp has more than 200 international caps to her name
Venue: The Oval, London Date: 23 August Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website from 14:50 BST

Highest score for South Africa women in a Test match, first woman to take a hat-trick for South Africa in a T20, player of the match awards in the 2021 finals of The Hundred and the Women’s Big Bash League: it’s an impressive list of accolades that all belong to talented all-rounder, Marizanne Kapp.

Fiery on the pitch, but composed and personable off it, the 32-year-old is one of the biggest characters in the female game. With 200 international wickets and 3,275 international runs to her name, she’s also one of the most skilful.

It’s not just cricket that the South African is skilled at though, and growing up Kapp represented her region, Eastern Province, in several sports.

“I have Provincial colours for netball, athletics, cross country and biathlon,” Kapp said.

“I did a bit of everything growing up and I think it’s something that has helped me and my career.”

As a multi-talented sportswoman, Kapp had several career options open to her but, ultimately, there was only one she wanted to pursue: cricket.

Although, her mum tried to convince her otherwise.

“When I was younger, cricket was always my first love,” Kapp said.

“But then when I got older – about 18/19 – I still didn’t know too much about women’s cricket and definitely you couldn’t earn money by playing it and my mum wanted me to study and get a ‘proper job’ – obviously thinking there won’t be a future in the sport.”

It was understandable advice, given the lack of funding in the female game. However, it was guidance Kapp decided to ignore.

Her love for cricket proved too strong, so she followed her dream – breaking into the South Africa national side while still a teenager.

Fortunately for Kapp, during her 18-year career the female game has completely transformed and it is now far more lucrative than it once was.

“When I started playing for South Africa, I did a bit of coaching on the side because you didn’t earn money to represent your country and you probably had one to two tours max a year,” Kapp explained.

“So just seeing the way it has grown, I still thank Jesus Christ for the opportunity to actually earn money and play the sport I love so much – it’s so amazing to be a part of it.”

The all-rounder has witnessed the dramatic development of the women’s game alongside her wife, South Africa skipper Dane van Niekerk.

The pair, who married in 2018, grew up playing with each other and they became the first female cricketers to be included in the Eastern Province Cricket Academy, playing alongside males.

Shortly after, they made their international debuts together during the 2009 ICC Women’s World Cup.

They’ve been inseparable ever since and now spend much of their lives travelling the world together playing for teams including South Africa and Oval Invincibles.

“It’s a massive blessing. You get to enjoy the one thing we both love so much, and then on off days you get to spend time with your person,” she says.

“And then when it’s not going as well – a lot of times the rest of the team, when it’s going tough for them, they have no-one other than teammates, which obviously is not the same as having family or your loved ones there. So that’s definitely something that really helps a lot.

“But it’s not always as easy as everyone thinks because we are two different people and if one does well and the other one is struggling, it’s so hard because you can’t be happy because it’s bothering you that it’s not going too well with the other person.

“Ultimately, though, I’m very blessed. It’s so nice to do the world with Dane.”

With the abundance of games and tournaments now in the women’s cricketing calendar, the pair share most of their time together on the pitch.

But when they do get rare downtime, how do they spend it?

“We are complete opposites in everything we do and the way we see things so usually when we get to the room at night, she wants nothing to do with cricket. She doesn’t really like watching cricket whereas I am the opposite. Even when I’m in my dorm room, I can’t wait to switch on the TV and watch any cricket that is on,” Kapp says.

“For me it’s a bit harder to switch off but again luckily I have someone like Dane. She usually tells me ‘enough now’ or she’s telling me off and completely stops listening to me if I start speaking about a field.”

Picture of Kapp, Ismail and Van Niekerk with trophy
Dane van Niekerk, left, and Marizanne Kapp, right, won The Hundred in its inaugural season

The duo have shared many highs on the cricket field together, including victory in the inaugural year of The Hundred with Oval Invincibles.

Captained by van Niekerk, Kapp was the matchwinner in last year’s final, taking 4-9 in an explosive spell of bowling that snatched victory from Southern Brave.

And playing on the big stage in those high-pressured occasions is something she relishes.

“It brings out the best in me,” Kapp added. “Something I actually struggle with is when we play against weaker sides or in warm-up games. I think it’s probably because I apply myself better when I’m challenged.

“If we reach the finals again, to play at Lord’s it would be absolutely amazing. I think it was a sold-out crowd as well last year. It would be amazing to to be there again.”

If the reigning champions are able to reach the tournament finale at the home of cricket, you’d have to be brave to bet against Kapp being the match-winner once again.

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