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Laura Wolvaardt’s majestic century guides Proteas women to thumping victory

Laura Wolvaardt’s majestic century guides Proteas women to thumping victory
Marizanne Kapp contributed a well-played 60 during the first Women’s T20I against Sri Lanka at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on 27 March 2024. Her 116-run partnership with captain Laura Wolfaardt helped the Proteas women to a decisive 79-run victory over Sri Lanka. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

Laura Wolvaardt became the third-ever Proteas women player to make a T20I century after a blistering 102 off 63 deliveries against Sri Lanka yesterday.

Through the covers and along the carpet. Laura Wolvaardt’s batting has become synonymous with the aesthetically pleasing cover drive – and while on this occasion it was more a slash than a punch, the ball that whistled through the cover region for four runs to bring up a maiden T20I century was as beautiful.

The Proteas women captain’s century guided the team to a 79-run victory over Sri Lanka in Willowmoore Park in Benoni in the first of three T20Is.

It’s Wolvaardt’s sixth international century, with the previous five coming in the One Day International format. This one, however, she ranks as the best of the lot.

“Probably number one just because it’s a T20 hundred,” she said after the match. “It’s very special to me.

“[This] is a format I’ve had to work hard at in the last couple of months.

“The timing of the hundred as well. I’ve had a frustrating few months; [I] didn’t have my best tour to Australia.

“I’ve been over-hitting it a bit. Even [the day before] in the nets, I had a pretty bad net session and felt really frustrated [because] I was losing my shape.

“I was really happy with how calm I was out there. I was able to keep my shape and cash in at the end and put up a big score, so [I’m] very happy with that.”

Leading from the front

Wolvaardt became only the third-ever Proteas women to knock a T20I century, after Shandre Fritz and Lizelle Lee.

Her 102 off 63 deliveries helped South Africa to 198 for the loss of five wickets – their second highest-ever score in the format.

The captain had some guidance from seasoned campaigner Marizanne Kapp (60 off 40 balls), with the pair sharing a 116-run third wicket partnership to help set up the mammoth total.

Wolvaardt started her innings tentatively, bringing up her 50 after facing 39 balls. Her next 50 took a mere 23 balls, as the elegant stroke-maker hit 12 fours and three big sixes.

“It was more about ticking over and putting away the bad balls,” Wolvaardt said about starting her innings slowly.

“In my partnership with [Marizanne] Kappie, she was the aggressor and I was just getting up and down to the other end.

“I was getting slightly frustrated that I wasn’t finding the boundaries as much… I was hovering around that 125 strike rate for quite a while.

“When Kappie went out – we both decided just before then – that we’ll have a go for the last five or six overs.

“I definitely didn’t think a 100 was on the cards; it was only the last over when I was on 88 and if I hit three fours I could get there.

“It definitely wasn’t planned; it just happened. Just had a bit of a party time at the end and was able to cash in.”

Wolvaardt has developed her repertoire of strokes from touch and timing to include power hitting when necessary. This has seen her steadily increase her overall strike rate over the years. Her century came at a blistering 161.9.

“It’s not something that I thought I could achieve one day, especially not a couple of years ago when I wasn’t really a regular T20 player,” Wolvaardt said.

From being on the fringes of the team, Wolvaardt has progressively become the batting lineup’s glue. DM

The Proteas women take on Sri Lanka at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom in the second T20I on Saturday.

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  • Rodney Weidemann says:

    She has the finest cover drive since Jacques Kallis, which is no small praise, and when Laura is on song, she’s possibly the finest SA cricketer to watch…

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