Sport

WOMEN’S CRICKET

Batting ace Laura Wolvaardt steps up to take over Proteas captaincy

Batting ace Laura Wolvaardt steps up to take over Proteas captaincy
Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup semifinal match against England at Newlands Cricket Ground on 24 February 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

The Proteas Women have their third leader in a short space of time as Laura Wolvaardt takes over on an interim basis, after Suné Luus — who also held the role on an interim basis — relinquishes the position.

The Proteas Women have a new interim captain in opening batter Laura Wolvaardt.

Wolvaardt will lead the team for the upcoming tours against Pakistan and New Zealand in the next two months.

It is the second time the swashbuckling batter takes over the role, having done so for two One Day International matches against India in 2021.

“It’s obviously something that’s very new to me, but I’m very keen to learn and to do everything that I can to hopefully do well in the position,” Wolvaardt said.

“I think I’m lucky that I have a couple of senior players around me as well within the squad who will be able to help me and guide me if I do need help along the way. [I’m] definitely excited for the role and very keen to learn as well.”

Suné Luus recently relinquished her role as interim captain — although she was confirmed as permanent captain of the side during this year’s T20 World Cup in South Africa — that decision seems to have been rescinded.

Wolvaardt becomes the team’s third captain this year, as former permanent captain Dané van Niekerk retired from international cricket earlier this year — although Van Niekerk didn’t take the field.

Laura Wolvaardt

Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard / Gallo Images)

Young leader

Wolvaardt takes the reins at only 24 years old, although she has vast international experience, having represented the country for more than seven years.

The sweet strokemaker will join the team in Pakistan from England where she represented Manchester Originals in The Hundred. She has not been in the best form but ended the competition as the side’s leading run scorer with 147 runs in six matches.

“I’ve been playing international cricket since I was 16 years old.

“I know quite a lot of the players in the circuit and I’ve been playing in a couple of leagues as well,” Wolvaardt said.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket in recent years. Hopefully, I’m able to use that experience and that knowledge to my advantage when I captain the team.

“I’d like to also think of myself as quite calm and level-headed and that’s probably more of the approach that I try to take on the field as a captain, so hopefully I’m able to just bring that level-headedness to our fielding and hopefully that’s a quality that’ll do as well when we’re under the pump a bit in some games.”

With the recent retirements of Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez and Van Niekerk, Wolvaardt is the most experienced top-order batter in the side.

She is third on the all-time ODI runs scorer’s list for the Proteas Women, amassing 3,193 runs at an average of 45.61 including 29 fifties and three centuries in 80 matches. 

South Africa’s next match after their series against New Zealand is against Australia in January next year when they go on an all-format month tour.

South Africa could have a new captain and coach at that time with head coach Hilton Moreeng’s — who has been at the helm for 11 years – contract coming to an end.

For Wolvaardt though, it’s about focusing on the now.

“My goals for the position for the next two tours would just be to do whatever I can to make sure that each player is able to perform at their best,” she said.

“I think it’s an important two tours for us because we have the ODI points to think about for qualification for the World Cup in the next ICC cycle.”

“So the ODIs are very important, so I think being new to the role it will just be figuring out what the team needs of me in the role and just being able to do whatever I can to make sure that everyone is ready to play and ready to go in those important games.” DM 

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