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Wolvaardt: Learning the art of managing dual roles

The 25-year-old opener is turning out to be one of the most exciting cricketers in the women's game.
Last Updated : 24 June 2024, 14:21 IST

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Bengaluru: At 21 years and 320 days, Laura Wolvaardt became South Africa’s second youngest ODI captain, after Sune Luus (21 years 124 days), who led the team against India in 2021. 

Cricket South Africa appointed Wolvaardt -- who was born in Milnerton, a seaside town north of Cape Town -- as SA’s all-format captain in November 2023. 

Wolvaardt, who is currently in India for the all-format bi-lateral series against India, tells DH about captaincy, her current batting form, growth of women’s game and more.

Excerpts..

How much are you enjoying captaincy? 

Umm, it's difficult but I'm enjoying it. It is a big job, I think I still have a lot to learn. Being a batter, having to learn the bowling side of things such as when to bring in which bowler has been a challenge. But yeah, working with the same set of girls makes it kind of easy to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of different players. 

Tell us about your own current batting form. 

I had a tough tour to Australia to start the year and then made a switch to be in pretty good form since then. But what's funny is that I haven’t changed (technically) too much since that tour. I guess cricket is a funny game. Sometimes it works and sometimes you nick off early. In the first game (4 runs in 4 balls) I got a pretty good delivery and in the second game I scored runs (135 n.o.). But I don't think my mindset was any different. The game can be a bit cruel sometimes. I'm just enjoying the good form while it lasts (scored 61 off 57 in the 3rd ODI).

How difficult is it to manage both roles (batter and captain)? 

I’m lucky that my two jobs are pretty separate. I’m quite good at compartmentalising each of the two roles. Captaincy has helped my batting I think. Because I have to be aware of conditions, angles and stuff like that. It also distracts me a bit. I can overthink about my batting form sometimes, whereas now I’m a bit more worried about taking care of the team.   

Pacers have been the strength of the SA side...

It is tough losing two of the best bowlers in the world. Shabnim (Ismail, who is now retired) added that X-factor to our line-up and that extra pace that you often don't get around the world. And Kappy (Marizanne Kapp, who is recovering from an injury isn’t bowling currently) with her skill is the best bowler in the world. We have to realise how lucky we were to have them in our side for so long.

I think it's a great opportunity for the younger ones such as (Annerie) Derkcson while we still have the experience in Ayabonga Khaka and (Masabata) Klass and Nadine (de Klerk) as well. We are lucky we have quite a lot of seam depth in the country. 

A 3-0 loss in the ODI wasn’t the best of the results but how is the mood in the camp for the Test and T20Is?

Very exciting for most of us who are playing our first Test match here. Playing in India is extremely special and not everyone gets to experience such things in their career. And obviously the T20s with the World Cup in the sub-continent later this year, is a crucial sort of preparation. We are also looking forward to the 50-over WC here next year. Just spending as much time in the middle is the goal. 

Speaking about the second ODI, an unfortunate loss for you but what are the lessons you learn from such contests? 

It was a crazy game. I think having four batters (herself, Kapp, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur) scoring centuries makes for a very exciting game of women’s cricket, a great advert for our sport. We as a unit discussed it too that it might have been a good thing for us to lose in the long run. These are the small moments that we can look back and learn from instead of thinking we did everything perfectly and move on. 

Growth of women’s cricket in SA?

It’s been massive. As a little girl I didn’t even know women's cricket existed. When I started playing for the country the game wasn't where it is now. It was a big risk, a financial risk particularly, to choose cricket over my studies. But I'm really glad I made that decision because the sport has really taken off and I'm fortunate enough to be playing some of the leagues and it has been such a cool journey. Just the amount of cricket we get to play now.. going on different tours and playing in different countries all over the world. It's very special. 

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Published 24 June 2024, 14:21 IST

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