The greats glitter in the gloom.
They are not worried by remorse. They disallow defeats to crush their spirits.
The greats, despite being hurt, simply move on.
Mignon Du Preez didn’t allow the disappointment of that 2017 World Cup semi-final against England to hurt her.
She moved on.
She moved on to draw some strength despite a comprehensive series loss to India at her South Africa.
In the 3rd ODI in March 2018, Mignon Du Preez engaged in what seemed like armoured warfare at Potchefstroom. Against a Yadav, Krishnamurthy, Vastrakar and Bisht powered-attack, Mignon would turn tyrant.
Her 90 off 111 included 7 boundaries.
India may have won the series, the former Protea’s Women’s captain cut loose.
Later, Bangladesh would be whitewashed by the South Africans.
This time, Mignon Du Preez turned a tad bit sedate. But she’d contribute cameos like 26 of 33 against the 2018 Asia Cup winning bowling attack.
No shoulders drooped. No slouching or tired walks. Accepting all outcomes with a cheery spirit.
Eager to learn and unafraid to lose.
But back then, South Africa didn’t lose by a hefty margin in July 2017.
At times, it’s the slow hurt of the knife that causes all the pain.
They took a beating that day, on a cold Bristol afternoon that went from being vapid into a nippy air of indifference.
It didn’t matter what the scorecard revealed.
Dane Van Niekerk was on the grass. It was as if a titan had fallen.
South Africa were broken.
It didn’t even matter that in their 3-wicket loss, they had dragged the game into the final over. In fact, almost to the penultimate delivery.
Some things are perennial and completely South African.
But even in losses, there’s a compelling urgency to revisit the math.
Maybe, there was something to remember.
Then, as a postcard of polarized emotion emerged on the screen, victorious Shrubsole and Gunn consoling a grieving Protea’s captain, fans remembered a feat of valiance.
Of Protea’s Women’s 218, 76 had come from a certain Mignon Du Preez’ bat.
Hearts hitherto swelled with grief were also pumped with pride.
No English bowler- not Shrubsole, not Brunt, not Beaumont either- was able to lord over Mignon Du Preez.
As Protea’s Women’s middle order specialist forged amid constant disruption in the wicket’s column- 5 fours were struck.
Some were magnificent toward the covers. Others were blasted akin to an unwavering scud missile fired into the leg region.
There was resolve, never mind the result, and it shone brightly in an indefatigable effort.
Was it the only source of light on a day marked by grimness?
Mignon Du Preez had arisen in her team’s heart-crushing loss.
She’d given the inconsolable side, Protean fans and truth be told, some (silently gushing) opponents- relieved at the sight of South Africa exiting the 2017 World Cup- a fight worth remembering.
She’s a figure of poise behind the grilled helmet. And a true reflector of the Protea’s Women’s cricket: their fire represented not curtly but with a polite inquiry toward self-betterment.
As great a provider of hopes thanks to her experience- most capped ODI player for South Africa- with 114 games as a forger enabling resistances stitched with hope.
You know somewhere deep inside that a Sune Luus basks in confidence of playing around names like Du Preez and Niekerk.
You can see Du Preez’ wealth of experience, rubbing shoulders with greats, past and present both Charlotte Edwards, Mithali Raj, Stafanie Taylor, Heather Knight, Suzie Bates, Harmanpreet Kaur, but never emoting arrogance. Always grace.
Few competitors approach a contest with such studious keenness despite having excelled for years.
Du Preez has been around when Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodriguez, Hayley Mathews, Jahanara weren’t born in the game.
Du Preez will last longer akin to the mountains of her homeland Pretoria, whether in the company of sun or rains.
Mignon Du Preez is grace under pressure.
Mignon Du Preez is the fire that anoints South Africa.
It has warmth. Not indifference.
It has keenness. Not condescendence.
Agreeing with a child-like passion that she grew admiring Hansie but Sachin was her idol, few cricketers conduct themselves with such dignity as Mignon Du Preez, who never rub arguably her greatest moment on the opponents’ face.
Which other present women cricketer from South Africa do you remember to have scored a Test ton on debut?
How many contemporary athletes have struck a sparkling double century in competitive 40-over Cricket?
Forget the runs, or that very Jonty-like blinder that defied gravity against Australia Women’s, in sending Nicole Bolton on her way (2017), Mignon Du Preez is the smile that could, on its own, serve as brand ambassador to South African cricket.
She’s the brave mid-innings soldier for South Africa where together with Sune Luus, Dane Van Niekerk and, Chloe Tyron, Du Preez provides stability.
Above all, she’s a figure of compassion and poise; someone who can demonstrate restraint during press conferences.
Amid the people- this people’s cricketer- speaks impassioned her sweetly-timed words echoing her commitment to Protea’s women’s cricket, conveying pure regard for the game in a sugary, very candy-like tone that eschews hype and has no place to dwell on personal heroics.
The team above the ‘I’, the runs scored for South Africa instead for self, still indicate that a lot is on offer. A few hours before England smuggled a win, Du Preez was at the other end with an unbeaten 36 as Leizelle Lee decimated the English.