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From dream-shattering accident to T20 World Cup final for SA’s Brits

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From dream-shattering accident to T20 World Cup final for SA's Brits

In 2011, Tazmin Brits was involved in a horrific car accident which left her gravely injured and losing the will to live.

Her dream of taking part in the London Olympics as a javelin thrower was also shattered as she lay in a hospital bed for three months.

“I had to teach myself to pull up to put the pan under me to pee, or get off the bed to get onto a commode. I had to teach myself to walk,” she told the BBC in an interview.

The near-fatal crash happened at Potchefstroom, where Brits had been celebrating her qualification for the Games.

From dream-shattering accident to T20 World Cup final for SA's Brits

A brief lapse in concentration meant the 2007 world junior champion lost control and was flung out of her car.

She suffered a broken pelvis and hip and punctured bladder. She required multiple painful surgeries.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk again, I wouldn’t be able to do sports again,” she told womenscriczone.com in 2019.

She added: “Along with my dream went all my sponsorships and will to live.

“I attempted to end my life on more than one occasion. I felt lost and had no direction.”

Then she bumped into Francois van der Merwe at the North West University in Potchefstroom.

Now the Namibia women’s coach, Van der Merwe became a mentor for Brits as she began to piece her life together again.

“I know her parents very well and she came to live with me for a few months,” said Van der Merwe.

“We had long chats during that time. It was a really tough period for her. But we had to focus on what she could still achieve on a different path.

“That’s when she poured all her energies into cricket and the North West provincial team that dominated South Africa’s women’s domestic cricket when she was our captain.”

Fierce competitor

On Sunday, Brits will attempt to spark South Africa to victory over hot favourites Australia in the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final.

Injuries were on her mind again on Friday when Brits took a spectacular flying catch to dismiss England’s Alice Capsey in South Africa’s stunning six-run semi-final win at Newlands.

“When I dived, I thought it was a vein that popped, it stood out. But they pushed it down. We weren’t sure if it was a bone or not,” the 32-year-old said.

“I said to Mo, our physio, please let me go back on the field. The doctor and him just made sure there were no bones broken.”

Brits’s all-round performance on Friday saw her grab four catches after hitting 68 in her team’s total of 164-4.

After her javelin dreams faded, Brits made her international cricket debut in 2018 but missed out on the squad for the 2020 T20 World Cup.

Her form at the 2023 tournament has, however, been on an upward curve, reflecting the team’s changing fortunes.

“She will find a way to keep scoring runs,” Van der Merwe said. “She doesn’t have the prettiest of techniques. But she will find a way.”

“She is such a competitor. She will inspire the dressing room and drag everyone with her over the line.

“Look at those catches, she was always in the game. When you have had to fight for everything that you have ever received in your life, you find a way in the hard times.”

Scores of 12 and one were followed by 45 against Australia and 50 not out in the final pool game against Bangladesh, which allowed South Africa to sneak into the semi-finals on net run rate.

Her run blitz on Friday came off 55 balls and featured six fours and two sixes.

On Sunday, Brits will attempt to script a fairytale finish in front of home fans at Newlands.

“I think today we almost basically clicked. I’m hoping everything clicks against Australia,” said Brits.

“I think we’ve always believed that we can do it.”

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