Despite being at a relatively young age for a professional athlete, Momentum Proteas all-rounder Suné Luus recently celebrated her 10th anniversary as an international cricketer for South Africa.
The 26-year-old has become a household name in South African cricket since bursting onto the scene in September 2012, going onto play 198 matches for her country across all formats. Luus’ career has developed in parallel to the evolution of the Proteas Women set-up that has gone from minnow to mainstay near the top of the women’s game.
“I actually can’t believe it’s 10 years already,” Luus noted. “I started at obviously a young age, so the first five years of my career just flew by.
“I was still in school for half of that and you just go to school and play some cricket and that’s kind of your career. It wasn’t professionalized back then, so the second half of my career is more professionalized and more of a career than the first half.
“It’s a huge honour to play for my country and represent my family and everything the badge stands for. I don’t think I saw myself playing for South Africa, it’s been a blessing to be a part of this side and hopefully there will be another 10 to come,” the Tshwane-born star added.
Growing up as a talented multi-sport athlete, Luus has always had a close affinity with extramural activities that included a ball. The former Hoërskool Menlopark pupil explains how her family and former KFC Mini-Cricket coach-dad influenced her passion for cricket, including a pivotal conversation with Proteas head coach, Hilton Moreeng that led to her choosing cricket as a pathway in life.
“I started playing cricket at the age of four,” Luus said. “It’s the generic story where you have a brother and your dad was part of cricket; you follow your dad around and pick up the ball and you are not too bad in hitting the ball and that is where it all started and I just love the game.
“Every single ball sports was awesome and as I grew up, I had to make a choice between tennis and cricket, and cricket at the time seemed like a better career option than me trying to get into Wimbledon,” she laughed.
“There was a camp as well, a tennis camp and a cricket camp and Hilton asked me at one stage, ‘Listen you have to make a choice, are you going to Sun City to play a couple of tennis games or are you coming to a national camp?’
“That was the turning point for when I thought I could take cricket seriously and make a career out of it,” the Fidelity Titans cricketer added.
Having made a decision to pursue a cricketing career, Luus was thrust into the spotlight and into a dressing room filled with older and more experienced players. Her youthful exuberance spilled over upon receiving her first set of South African kit before reality set in on her first tour to Bangladesh, a place that presents challenging conditions for even the most accomplished cricketer.
“It was quite different. I just remember walking into Potchefstroom and getting bags filled with clothes. You can’t imagine how many clothes we got. It was an amazing experience; taking everything out of the bags, trying everything on and it was still literally green and gold, so it was an awesome feeling,” Luus recalls.
“One of the first tours was in Bangladesh. I didn’t make the side regularly so I had to play one of the games and go field and I remember, because I was 16 years old, I passed out afterwards of the heat and that was kind of the first experience of international cricket and in Bangladesh it was so hot, they had to call the doctor in because as I got in the room I just passed out.
“But it was an amazing experience and I think that’s something I will cherish forever, and that’s why I run so much now, to make sure that I’m fit,” she commented.
Beginning with that dramatic tour to the subcontinent, Luus has featured in 91 T20 Internationals (T20I), a single Test match and 106 One-Day Internationals (ODI) for South Africa, notching up a combined total of 2 767 runs and 163 wickets.
Although the record books show that her most fruitful year was in 2016 where she picked up the joint-most 50-over wickets (37) in a calendar year, the leg-spinner singles out this year as one she will forever cherish after coming out of her shell as a batter and captain.
“Obviously through your career, you have your ups and downs, and every tour is like a moment, but I remember that year (2016), we played Pakistan in Doha with a Tri-series against Ireland as well and the wickets just came. I just woke up and I knew I was going to take a five-for today,” Luus said.
“I just bowled and that was a very good year in my career, and the season after that I got Player of the Year for the Proteas as well, so that was awesome.
“A memory for me was probably this year’s World Cup, in terms of batting and the leadership role; I got to captain the side at a World Cup, which I never thought I would do in my life. The tour leading up to that against the West Indies and the World Cup, was three of the best months of my career,” she added.
With permanent team captain Dané van Niekerk missing out of the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup due to injury, Luus was asked to step into the captaincy fold and although she admits the opportunity was a “surprise”, the all-rounder has been preparing for that moment her entire life.
“It is something I have done since I was a little girl. All the teams I have been in, I have been in a captain or vice-captain position, at school; head girl or deputy head girl, so I have always had a leadership role in whichever team I played a part of so it came naturally to me,” she explained.
“For me, as I play under different captains in the world, I try to learn as much as I can and something that stood out for me, was to create an environment where everybody feels welcome and feels they can play their best cricket and be themselves,” Luus continued.
Another significant occasion that Luus and the rest of the South African team are looking forward to will be what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hosting next year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup between 10 – 26 February.
“It’s going to be awesome. It is very exciting, especially to have our family and friends there. My dad has always been someone who pushed me to get him that plane ticket to go to a World Cup but this time I promised him a ticket to Cape Town.
“It’s going to be awesome to have my family there, for them to be a part of a World Cup and for all the fans to be there and just supporting us,” Luus concluded.