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From online abuse, alcoholism to playing in World Cup final: Sinalo Jafta

Four months before Sinalo Jafta was playing in a World Cup final, she checked into a rehab centre.

From online abuse, alcoholism to playing in World Cup final: Sinalo Jafta

Sinalo Jafta (CSA)



Updated: 27 Feb 2023 2:11 PM GMT

Sober now, Sinalo Jafta had descended into alcoholism after being bombarded with social media vitriol, "sending me over the edge" and prompting her to contemplate retirement from cricket at 27.

Then began the revival, the high point of which has been playing a part in South Africa's march into the final of the Women's T20 World Cup. This is four months after she had checked into rehab for alcohol abuse.

As they are wont to, South Africa faltered at the last hurdle but this silver is as good as gold for Jafta, for she was not even in a position to hold the bat properly in the not-too-distant past, let alone play in a World Cup final.

"Two months ago, I came out of rehab," the South Africa wicket-keeper batter said, shedding a few tears after the team's heartbreaking loss in the summit clash against Australia on Sunday.

"I've got God to thank for my sobriety, and the team have been so supportive. I came out on December 8, and for me to get fit, to play… hectic. What a journey. The person you get on the field is someone who gets on their knees every day. I am not in control of anything. God is always in control."

When the going got too difficult for her following continuous online abuse, friends and family helped her, heeled her.

"Social media, it doesn't support you. You have a really tough day and people just bullet you. That sent me over the edge. It just wouldn't stop. I remember coming back from the Commonwealth Games (in August) and everything just broke. I lost who I was."

The online abuse affected her mental health, which led to her drinking excessively. The wicketkeeper, who bats mostly at No.8, would be attacked for her performance, her body weight and her race.

"My mom (Lumka Jafta) was one of the people who supported me through it, and the team doctor and the management gave me two months' medical leave. I was in treatment for 56 days. I learnt the best about myself. People are allowed to have their opinions but it doesn't define who I am," she said.

Had it not been for the timely help, her story could have unfolded differently.

"I was walking away from cricket. October 7 is when I made the decision I was going to go into treatment. I was done. I felt like I had nothing left to give. I was 27. I was done. Now, as a 28-year-old, I've got my career ahead of me. The fact that I can say I have a career ahead of me," she recalled.

Looking at the silver medal, she said, "I am going to wear this, I am going to go to bed with it, I am going to shower with it, because this wasn't even possible for me. This is probably my gold... for now."

Australia won a record-extending sixth T20 World Cup title after beating the hosts by 19 runs in the final at a packed Newlands.

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