The rest of the world is catching the world champion Australian outfit which has lost some of its all-conquering aura since the retirement of legendary skipper Meg Lanning according to history making South African captain Marizanne Kapp.
Australia’s 27-year unbeaten run against the South Africans in ODIs ended on Wednesday night in a comprehensive victory for the tourists as Kapp dominated with 75 runs before a devastating bowling spell when she removed the home side’s top three batters.
The result was their first win over Australia in an ODI in 17 attempts and they now trail 6-4 in the multi-format series ahead of Saturday’s final 50-over fixture and next week’s one-off Test in Perth with a hamstring injury to Belinda Clarke Award winner Ash Gardner another issue for the Aussies.
Australia never lost to South Africa with Lanning in charge, in ODIs or T20s, but in her absence the Proteas have snapped up a win in each format this tour.
While the Aussies retained the Ashes and won the white-ball series on the recent tour of India without her, Kapp was adamant they are not the same side they were.
“There’s definitely a change,” she said.
“Losing someone like Lanning, you’re never going to be able to replace her – not with captaincy and her batting as well.
“I remember too many games where we had Australia in trouble and she came out to bat and she saved them.
“I think everyone is catching up a bit around the world, even the associate teams are picking up against the lower-ranked teams so it’s good for the women’s game.
“It’s a lot more challenging, and hopefully this can continue.”
Australia will be out to prove on Saturday that they are far from a spent force, but they may have to do it without Gardner who came from the field in the first innings with hamstring tightness and dropped two spots down the batting order.
She looked okay between the wickets in her innings of 35, but she’ll be assessed in the morning with Australia unlikely to take any major risks in the third ODI given how important the Test is.
“She was fine,” Garth said.
“It didn’t look to me like she was hampered too much, so I think she did really well. She batted beautifully so I don’t think there’s too much to worry about.”
Meanwhile, Ellyse Perry is set to overcome a stomach bug that limited her to two overs and left her looking green around the gills while sitting in the dugout.
“I think she’s not feeling the best,” Garth said, lamenting her side’s effort with the bat, ball and in the field where they dropped five catches.
“I haven’t properly chatted with her since coming off, but it’s not ideal at all with the timing and all that.
“I have absolutely no doubt she’ll be out there on Saturday, knowing Pez.
“The initial feeling is disappointment, but credit to South Africa because I think they batted really well in tough conditions and then used the new ball beautifully to set the game up.
“We’re disappointed but we’ll reflect on that and take some learnings into the last game.”
Game three of the ODI series is again at North Sydney Oval on Saturday before the Test match in Perth.