South Africa’s Lara Goodall gets rid of the ‘disconnect’ to fire in her second coming

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Thanks coach Hilton Moreeng as she makes “mental shift” to get her on-field performances to match her promise

Lara Goodall has dedicated her career-best 59* against India Women to national coach Hilton Moreeng, who she credited with believing in her even when she was not performing. The innings, Goodall’s second fifty in 25 ODIs, helped secure the series for South Africa Women, with a game to play.

“It was nice to get the team over the line. The personal milestone was good but to be there at the end after grafting so hard in the middle and to win the game was special,” she said. “To coach Hilton, for all his faith in me. I know I haven’t always backed him up but he has always backed me as a player, so this one was for him.”

Goodall was recalled by Moreeng and the selection panel for January’s home series against Pakistan after spending 15 months out of the international game. She was dropped after South Africa’s last tour of India, in 2019, where she played in two of the three ODIs and returned scores of 38 and 6. At that point, her ODI average was 15.14 – quite substandard for a middle-order batter.

“I took that quite hard,” Goodall admitted, while conceding that she had clear weaknesses. “I wasn’t sure of my game and how to play spin and what my scoring options were. I didn’t really back myself so I was making half-hearted approaches.”

She called what happened between training session and match day back then a “disconnect”; she was unable to translate her talent into runs for the runs national team, and she was forced to go back to the domestic set-up and refine her skills. “I looked at myself and saw that I needed to improve a lot to become a mainstay in this line-up. There was a slot in that middle-order, which I wanted to make mine.”

“We have a world-class opening partnership in Lizelle [Lee] and Laura [Wolvaardt] and we haven’t always backed them up in the past. We owed it to Lizelle and Laura. Today was for them.”

Lara Goodall pays tribute to her team-mates

In the 2019-20 summer, Goodall finished outside the top 10 in the CSA women’s provincial league and probably still wasn’t doing enough to be recalled. But then lockdown happened and, for her, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. “I trained very hard during the lockdown and just came back with a different approach. It was more of a mental shift, because I felt that I always had the shots and the ability to bat.”

One of the shots is the reverse-sweep, which she cheekily pulled out twice in the 48th over to put South Africa in touching distance of victory in Lucknow. “It’s a shot I’ve always backed myself to play. I’ve played it back home all the time. Once they took the slip out, that was always going to be my option. My conventional sweep wasn’t working so I had to go to that option and it came off. I was calm and I was set, which helped to execute such shots. And now that I am back I don’t ever want to go back to provincial structures for the whole season. I want to be playing for the Proteas with a view to the World Cup next year.”

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