Congrats, Ms and Ms van NieKapp. But how will team dynamics be ...

Sport

Congrats, Ms and Ms van NieKapp. But how will team dynamics be affected?

The pair have removed all the nudges and winks by getting wed. Will the crockery fly at home if one runs the other out?

Journalist

Until Sunday, Marizanne Kapp’s Wikipedia page made no reference to Dané van Niekerk, whose entry on the same platform did indeed feature her partnership with Kapp.
But only to say she shared a stand of “128 runs with Marizanne Kapp [against Pakistan in a 2013 World Cup match in Cuttack], the highest South African partnership for the sixth wicket”.
A contemporary report on that performance begins: “Marizanne Kapp and Dané van Niekerk have a lot in common. They both are allrounders. They made their international debut during the 2009 Women’s World Cup. And they are ‘best friends’ in the South Africa dressing room. They are also room-mates whenever the team goes on tour.”
On Saturday the pair removed all the nudges and winks by doing something that, in a better world, would go unreported in a proper publication except, perhaps, on the social pages.
They married each other.Cue, on Sunday, the addition of a “personal life” section on those Wikipedia pages: “In July 2018, she married her teammate Marizanne Kapp” and “In July 2018, she married her teammate Dané van Niekerk.”
Congratulations, Ms and Ms van NieKapp.
Last week a Cricket South Africa official spoke, politely but firmly, of an imminent “very private and very small ceremony” — code for, no, you cannot have an interview or send a photographer, or anything else.
“They are strictly anti inviting the media into their personal relationship,” the official said.
“There won’t even be social media posts of the wedding. It’s not a secret but they prefer to keep their life together private.”
Damn straight, although there were social media posts: Kapp put three uncaptioned photographs of the wedding on her Instagram account. The brides wore white.
By Monday afternoon the pictures had elicited 2,911 likes and 132 comments — 128 of them giddily offered congratulations. What of the four exceptions?“WTF,” someone said. Another wanted to know if “this is possible”. Someone else asked “where is the bridegrooms”.
A post in Hindi translated to: “I’m having to see a woman as hot as [Van] Niekerk marrying a woman. My life is over.”
Even though they are public figures, and thus, according to a particular take on these things, not entitled to private lives, exceptions must be made for Kapp and Van Niekerk.
Not because they may want it that way, but because too often sport is a rock that hides terrified creatures that, it seems, have never held up to the light.
Most of them are straight and male and, intolerably, tolerated in societies that should not be considered civilised for that reason.
This abhorrence thrives in deeply misogynist South Africa.We live in a country we dare to call a democracy, where everyday sexism is dismissed as “our culture” and the evil of corrective rape by men of women who dare to proclaim their independence from the straight and narrow goes unpunished unforgivably often.
If the #MeToo movement is ever taken seriously in South Africa, a third of men would be in prison and another third rendered unemployable and shunned.
The remaining third would be those clever enough to hide their sexism.
As a South African man, I’m eminently qualified to make that assertion.
But it’s not only the straights who are upset with Kapp and Van Niekerk.
A section of the gay community will rail against what they consider two of their own seeking the establishment’s endorsement of their relationship.
They can’t win, can they?
Even objective cricket fans will have questions.Kapp and Van Niekerk aren’t the first members of the same cricket team to be married —  in March last year New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu tied the knot — but it would seem to be the first time one of the brides has been that team’s captain.
Does that mean Kapp will get preferential treatment from the skipper, Van Niekerk?
What might their conversation over dinner be like if Kapp feels her captain didn’t bowl her in the right match situations?
Will team meetings freeze over if Kapp disagrees markedly with Van Niekerk’s proposed tactics, or vice versa? Or doesn’t voice her disagreement? What’s the dressingroom going to be like if one drops a catch off the other?Will the crockery fly at home if one runs the other out?
All of those questions — except the last one — have been answered: in their nine years as international players Kapp and Van Niekerk have been integral to South Africa’s success.
That includes reaching last year’s World Cup semifinal, where South Africa went down with the kind of fight rarely shown by the men’s team under similar pressure.
They have clearly performed more than well enough to prove that their relationship, which has endured for much of the last nine years, doesn’t have a negative impact on team dynamics.
As for runouts, Van Niekerk and Kapp have between them been dismissed in that fashion 32 times at international level.
And not once were they batting together at the time. 
The plates, then, are safe. For now …

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