HomeCommonwealth Games 2022Classy Laura Wolvaardt Rejuvenates Herself In the Shorter Format Of The Game

Classy Laura Wolvaardt Rejuvenates Herself In the Shorter Format Of The Game

In the final of the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022, when she came out to bat, Velocity was staggering at 38/3 at the end of 6 overs. Their two most swashbuckling batters, Shafali Verma and Kiran Navgire have been sent to the pavilion while they managed to score only 10 runs in the previous 24 balls. Laura Wolvaardt took 8 balls before she took on the star-studded bowling attack of Supernovas, hitting two boundaries to Pooja Vastrakar. She was a mere onlooker as the wicket continued to fall from the other side.

Despite a couple of boundaries against Rashi Kanojia and Deandra Dottin, Velocity needed 69 runs from the last 5 overs. Though Laura hit a six over long-off in the very first ball, King managed to pick up two wickets in that over which increased the pressure. She repeated the same in King’s next over. The equation was 34 from the last 12 balls. Despite a 34 balls half-century was came at the right moment, her 2nd in three matches. The match was far from over.

While she hit Vastrakar a boundary in the first ball of the 19th over, Simran who has hit King for a six in the last over, hit three back-to-back boundaries to keep Velocity in the hunt. 17 was needed from the last 6 and she came down the track and slog-swept Sophie Ecclestone over the cow corner for a six. Though the number one spinner kept her nerve to hand Supernovas a 4-run victory and their 3rd Women’s T20 Challange Title, Laura Wolvaardt remained not out on 40 balls 65 and ended up with another defeat. 133 runs with an average of 133, Laura Wolvaardt batted with a strike rate of 146.

Laura is one of the 7 players who have scored more than 60 runs with a strike rate of more than 130. And in those 7 players apart from Harmanpreet Kaur, she is the only who the only middle-order bat. That means she got the less number of balls within the field restriction. Still, she batted with a strike rate of more than 146. Along with her long-range hitting ability, she is very good at strike rotation. This makes her a trailblazer even in the shorter format of the game, where every dot balls cost handy. Unlike the previous two matches, where she batted at number four, in the final she was sent down the order. Chantham and Navgire consumed 26 balls for their 6 runs. Which turns out to be a crunch factor in the context of the game.

Batters who have scored more than 60 runs with a strike of 130+ in Women’s T20 Challenger 2022:

Name Run Ball Faced Runs Scored in Boundary (Balls) Strike Rate Run Scored without Boundary (Balls)  Strike Rate
Harmanpreet Kaur 151 109 84 (18) 466.66 67 (91) 73.62
Laura Wolvaardt 133 91 80 (18) 444.44 53 (73) 72.6
Deandra Dottin 100 70 58 (12) 483.33 42 (58) 72.41
Shafali Verma 95 56 74 (18) 411.11 21 (38) 55.26
Jemimah Rodrigues 90 65 50 (12) 416.66 40 (53) 75.47
S Meghana 73 47 52 (11) 472.72 21  (36) 58.33
Kiran Navgire 69 47 50 (10) 500.00 19 (37) 51.35

Laura Wolvaardt, the youngest South African to score an ODI hundred, has also scored 2nd highest individual score in an ODI inning for them. A prominent bat in the longer formats of the game, she has scored more than 2000 runs with an average of 44 in ODI’s. However one of the best ‘drivers’ of the game Laura found it difficult to accommodate herself in the T20 format. While opening for the Proteas, she had managed to score only 329 runs in 20 outings with a strike rate less than 100. Prior to the T20 World Cup last year, her scoring rate was not even impressive against the Kiwis. She scored 33 from 35 and 22 from 18, followed by a couple of single-digit scores.

Seeing her runs drying up in the shorter formats of the game, the South African management asked her to bat down the order from the beginning of the World T20 in 2020. She had batted only once in a position lower than no. 3, scoring an unbeaten 4 against India, in 21 innings. And it seems like that one decision might have changed Laura’s career in the shorter formats of the game as well.

READ MORE: Women’s T20 Challenge 2022: Deandra Dottin, Alana King Guide Supernovas To Another Title Win

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South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt bats during the Women’s Cricket World Cup match against India at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on March 27, 2022. (Image: Getty)

In the first two matches, her service was not required. Two openers, Lizelle Lee and Dane van Niekerk secured the first two matches for the Proteas in World T20. In the last match of the group, against Pakistan, she came out to bat when South Africa was reduced to 56/3 in 60 balls. Then they lost Kapp and South Africa desperately needed a strong comeback. Wolvaardt crafted her innings well – running hard in the beginning and then finishing the innings with flurries of boundaries.

The crispness and power of her driving were outstanding while her strong wrists enabled her to find gaps, bisecting the fielders. Scoring 6 boundaries in the last two overs against two spinners provided South Africa with the late boost in the innings, living up to the expectations of the management. Her 36-ball half-century was the 2nd in her career, but what mattered was the strike rate of 147.

But that was only the beginning of the new chapter in Laura Wolvaardt’s career. South Africa topped the group and locked the horns against the mighty Aussies. The absence of Kapp gave Klerk an opportunity to showcase her skill, while Haynes came out of the shadows of big names with her calculated 49. South Africa needed 91 from 78 balls for their first-ever Final. With the devastating Lee at top of the order, the required run rate looked very much achievable, but soon they found themselves in the muddle. Laura Wolvaardt once again came to the rescue.

Along with Sune Luss, she started the fightback, hitting the bowlers straight down the ground. A 14 run over followed by an 8 run over. Nicole Carry went for 11 while a merely over from Kimmince meant South Africa needed 27 from 12 balls. Though Luss got out with 1o balls to spare, South Africa’s hope rested on Chloe Tyron. The platform was well set for a batter who had a career strike rate of 140. After a couple of singles, Wolvaardt hit Schutt for a 6 to say in the game. Tyron fell to a full-toss in the first ball of the next over.

But Wolvaardt continued to fight a lost battle that night. JJ was slashed through backward point for four and then Klerk hit another four. 8 was needed from the last ball. Australia won the match by 5 runs. Wolvaardt with a strike rate of 151 scored unbeaten 41 from 27. Nope, she failed to win the match but it was the enigma of arrival.

As Laura Wolvaardt dispatched Nicola Carey over extra cover, Jess Jonassen at long-off would only watch that sailing to the boundary. There was nothing wrong with that ball. Nicola followed Laura, as she was moved towards her legside. The ball pitched outside the leg stump. On any other day, Wolvaardt would have been happy to nudge it to the leg side for a couple or a single. But there was something about that night of the rain-affected World T20 semifinal. South Africa was clinging to the slightest of hope, that was Laura Wolvaardt.

Seeing that stroke even Mel Jones could not hide her excitement. “Oh, My!!! This is class on so many levels. Take the photo of that and put that in a coaching manual.” Wolvaardt, who is so strong on the offside could have taken the match away from Australia has she been well supported by others.

Laura Wolvaardt At Different Batting Positions in T20Is:

Position Innings Run Ball Faced Average Strike Rate 50/100 Best 4/6 B/B
1-3 20 329 346 17.31 95.08 1/0 55* 44/1 17.69
4-7 11 259 167 86.33 155.08 2/0 53* 25/8 5.06

Her touch was followed in the next series as well. A couple of small but useful knocks (15* from 10 and 13 from 10) at the fag end of the innings helped to win the series by 2-1. South Africa was the underdogs when they travelled to India, having lost both the series miserable in the previous encounters. South Africa won the first match comfortably. India pilled up 158 runs in the next T20 which provided them with an upper -hand after the first half.

93 was needed from 64 balls when she came out to bat. She took 11 balls to get to her first boundary. A couple of boundaries took her to go past the 20 runs mark and South Africa needed 43 runs from 30 balls. Lee who rode in the beast mode helped Wolvaardt to take her time. But as Lee was removed by Yadav it seemed like the match has tilted towards India. But Laura went on. She ended that over by sending Poonam through the square leg . 11 runs came from Deepti Sharma’s over. Followed by 6 runs. 19 needed from 12.

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Laura Wolvaardt bats during the Women’s Cricket World Cup. (Image: Getty)

Deol struck in the 2nd ball of her over. A couple of singles followed. Wolvaardt punished the next ball while sending the next one through a short fine leg. Reddy had nine runs to defend. Her first ball was a low full toss which Nadine de Klerk hit through midwicket for a single. Her second was a wide yorker that Wolvaardt missed. Her third was another full toss, but high, and was hit to deep mid-wicket for a single. Then she bowled a full delivery that de Klerk lofted to long-on, but it fell well short of the fielder. So far, so good. South Africa had scored three runs off the first four balls and needed six off 2.

Then, Reddy bowled a more-than-waist high full toss that Laura Wolvaardt pulled to mid-wicket for two. It was called a no-ball and South Africa only needed three off two. She completed her 3rd half-century, 2nd while batting down the order. Wolfvaardt found two runs off the fifth ball and swung wildly at the final one, which she inside-edged towards a short fine leg for the run that won the series. South Africa completed their third-highest successful chase to record their first T20I series win over India, with a thrilling last-ball win for a 2-0 series lead in Lucknow. And she played an instrumental role in that.

Laura Wolvaardt who was in good touch in The Hundred continued to show her class in the series against West Indies. Came out to bat at number 4 she took 12 balls to reach 10. When it looked like West Indies would be able to restrict South Africa to a modest total, she hit back-to-back boundaries against Mathews. She ended her innings by hitting another 2 sixes against Shakera Selman, scoring 35 from 21. South Africa ended with 135/3.

It was not the end of Wolvaardt’s wrath. South Africa had 14 balls in their hand when the lanky middle-order batter was out again in the 2nd T20I. A couple of 2’s were followed by a boundary against Anisa Mohammed. Tanzim Brits took two balls to give Laura the strike back. Laura stepped out in the third ball to hoick straight over Mathews’s head. The next ball was the exact copy of the previous one and the result was the same. Mathews conceded the 3rd six over mid-wicket followed by another one. Wolvaardt’s 4 consecutive sixes took the South African score to 165. Laura Wolvaardt’s 33 came off just 9 balls.

From the T20 World Cup, no other batter has scored a minimum of 200 runs with a greater strike rate than Laura Wolvaardt at number four in T20Is. If we look at the other side of the coin it was the same time when she decided to opt for cricket over becoming a doctor. A versatile character Laura wrote a song when she was in 9 standards. In one of her interviews, she said that it was a really difficult decision to make a choice between her career in cricket and the medical profession. She was accepted for medicine at the University of Stellenbosch after school in 2018 and she did attend that about a month before her tour to India.

And the tight cricket schedule forced her to choose only one and she opted to opt-out of medicine. She is still studying for a Bachelor of Science degree part-time. It happened to many others. The changing of the batting order has ultimately helped in the longer runs. It seems like Laura Wolvaardt in the middle order in the shorter formats of the game have come as a blessing in disguise. And Laura, “the pop-up out of a textbook” as one of the commentators would have called her, grabbed that opportunity with both hands and made her indispensable in the shorter formats of the game.



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