"The moment I put on cricket clothes I feel uncomfortable" - Dane van Niekerk
Former South Africa women's team captain Dane van Niekerk said that she feels uncomfortable wearing cricket clothes.
The star all-rounder was excluded from South Africa women's T20 World Cup squad earlier in the year after she failed to meet the fitness benchmark, the two-kilometer run, just short by 18 seconds when asked to complete in nine minutes and 30 seconds.
van Niekerk did not play international cricket since September 2021 as a freak ankle injury sustained in January 2022 when she slipped on a wet surface at her home in Eastern Cape. She was subsequently ruled out from the 2022 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.
The only way for the senior player to make a comeback in the national colors was to crack the fitness test. But once she was denied a spot in the 2023 Women's T20 World Cup held at home, van Niekerk announced retirement from international cricket in March.
Explaining how things turn awkward for her the moment she puts on a cricket shirt, Dane van Niekerk told BBC Sport Africa:
"In everyday life I'll walk around in shorts and a T-shirt. I feel OK - like a human, a normal human being. I don't feel like I'm overweight; I don't feel uncomfortable. But the moment I put on cricket clothes I feel uncomfortable, and I don't feel like I need to."
"It's easy to speak about the fitness aspect. It's not a lie - I was never the leanest cricketer in the world, but I won games for franchises. I won games for my country."
Dane van Niekerk's performance at international level
Dane van Niekerk played 107 One-Day Internationals, 86 T20 Internationals, and a solitary Test in a 14-year international career for the Proteas women.
She amassed 4074 runs across formats at an average of 31.58 and picked up 204 international wickets. With 1877 runs in 86 innings at a strike rate of 94.94, van Niekerk is the second-highest run-scorer in T20Is for South Africa women.
The all-rounder still plays in the T20 leagues across the world and was recently seen representing the Sunrisers in the Charlotte Edwards Cup. She will next lead Oval Invincibles in the third edition of the Women's Hundred in August.