Botsogo Mpedi’s name is often missing when the roll call for the country’s most eminent sport sons and daughters is made. But while the spotlight has shone away from her budding cricket career, Mpedi’s name is etched on the board of cricket’s all-time best bowling in a T20 match. But at just 17, she is still hungry for more, writes MQONDISI DUBE
Her captain, Laura Mophakedi calls her ‘Long Legs’, because of Botsogo Mpedi’s gangly frame.
It is the long legs, together with her devastating right arm that propelled the Mochudi-born Mpedi to the top three of the world’s best bowling figures in a T20 match.
At one stage, Mpedi’s bowling figures of 6-8 were the best in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.
She sits third in the all-time list of best bowling figures in an ICC T20 match.
This came after a career-changing afternoon on August 20, 2018, when Botswana played Lesotho in an ICC sanctioned T20 tournament at the BCA Oval in Gaborone.
The tournament featured six teams from Botswana, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Malawi and Namibia. On the historic day, Lesotho won the toss and chose to field. Botswana posted an imposing 164 from their allotted 20 overs. Lesotho’s chase got off to a disastrous start as they struggled to 13 for three after six overs.
Their nightmare was compounded when the ‘Mochudi Express’ was introduced into the attack in the seventh over.
In a devastating over, Mpedi snared three Lesotho wickets for no run, to announce her arrival on the big stage as a fresh faced 15-year-old. She took another wicket in the ninth over, which proved to be the most expensive as she conceded seven runs.
This saw her captain Mophakedi withdraw Mpedi from the attack in the next over. When she was withdrawn, her figures read; two overs, one maiden, seven runs and four wickets. Mpedi was reintroduced into the attack in the 15th over for her second spell, and she cleaned up Lesotho’s tail.
The Basotho had moved to 39 for eight wickets but Mpedi crushed any hopes of a late wag, taking the last two wickets within five balls, after she bowled a wide with her second delivery.
This saw Lesotho fold to 40 all-out, handing Botswana a crushing 124-run victory.
Mpedi was the obvious choice for woman-of-the-match, but further sweet news were in store.
Tournament statistician, Vanesh Seganathirajah announced Mpedi had broken a long-standing record for bowling figures in a women’s T20 international match.
“I didn’t know anything about the record. When I got to the office that is when I realised I had broken the record,” Mpedi said.
Until Mpedi’s exploits, New Zealander, Amy Satterthwaite was the record holder after she took six wickets for 17 runs in just four overs, in a match against England in 2007. Mpedi, from a relatively cricketing lightweight, had smashed a record that had stood for 11 years, never mind the calibre of the opposition.
Today, Mpedi’s name- and image- stand side by side with the game’s finest on the board of the best bowling figures in a T20 match.
She had been playing cricket for only three years when she achieved the rare feat. As it stands,
The soft-spoken Mpedi said her first interest in cricket started when she was in Standard Four at Rasesa Primary School in 2013.
“My class teacher was a cricket coach and she encouraged me to play cricket. At first I was reluctant, but when I was in Standard 5, I eventually decided to go for it,” said the medium right-arm bowler. She had no keen interest in any form of sport up to that point.
After a schools competition held in Mochudi, she was selected into the Kgatleng region team.
In 2014, she was selected into the Under-13 national team before she proceeded to the Under-19 side, where she was the youngest.
She is still the youngest in the senior team and her strength is sticking to line and length when she delivers her in-swingers.
While she is a thriving medium pace bowler, Mpedi is keen to improve her batting side, as she endeavours to develop into an all-rounder.
She wants to see herself playing in cricket-mad India, where the sport enjoys cult status.
Her role model is Indian batswoman, Smirit Mandhan, named the 2018 ICC best female cricketer of the year.
“The good thing is that I met her when I went to India last year.”
Mpedi spent a month in India attending a cricket course.
She said her father always encourages her to focus on her studies, and the family is not so passionate about cricket.
“The family was excited about my feat (breaking the record). My dad loves football and my mum is not a sportsperson but sometimes they come and watch me play,” she said.
Mpedi said the women’s game still lags behind, and they need to play more matches like their male counterparts.
National team coach, Joseph Angara said a bright future lies ahead for Mpedi.
“Botsogo has done well, only that this year we have been affected by COVID-19. Since she got the record, she has shown a lot of commitment in her work.
Her bowling has been coming up well and her batting has improved ever since she went to India. She needs to work on her fitness and play more cricket. It would be beneficial for her to play outside (the country) to get more exposure,” Angara said. Away from cricket, Mpedi wants to be a mine engineer, but after seeing job losses in the sector, she is keen to pursue medicine. She is a Form Five student at Molefi Senior Secondary School and is currently completing her BGCSE school leaving examinations.
Full name: Botsogo Mpedi
Nicknames: Mochudi Express, Long Legs
Born: February 3, 2003, Mochudi
Batting style: Right hand bat
Bowling style: Right-arm medium
Best bowling figures: 2.3 overs–8 runs–6 wickets (against Lesotho)