'Don’t have to hit sixes every ball to have an SR of 180': Laura Wolvaardt | Crickit

'Don’t have to hit sixes every ball to have an SR of 180': Laura Wolvaardt

Mar 14, 2024 09:06 PM IST

The Gujarat Giants didn't have a great WPL but when they did win, the South African opener did her part.

Just like last season, Gujarat Giants once again finished at the bottom of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) standings with six losses from eight games. But the two times the Giants came out on top, it was only after a certain Laura Wolvaardt clicked with the bat.

Gujarat Giants batter Laura Wolvaardt(PTI) PREMIUM
Gujarat Giants batter Laura Wolvaardt(PTI)

The South Africa skipper struck crucial opening wicket partnerships with Beth Mooney to take bowling attacks to the cleaners and provide a platform to Giants to put up a big score, which they did, eventually helping them earn two wins.

The 24-year-old Wolvaardt, who came in as a replacement for Mooney midway through WPL 2023, talks about her experience, how she has developed her technique and what will it take to challenge Australia in international cricket. Excerpts:

How would you sum up your experience in WPL 2024?

I really enjoyed it. The results haven't gone our way but off the field I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the team. WPL is an amazing tournament to be a part of and the crowds have been insane. It's just been a cool experience to be here.

How is WPL similar and different from other leagues?

It is very different. The atmosphere of the games is very different. These were some of the biggest crowds I have played in front of. Having 25,000 people at a domestic tournament game is something that is crazy, something we are not used to. That is the main difference – how loud it was at the games and how big the crowds were.

How was it to contribute to both of Giants’ wins?

The last few games we really found our groove especially with the bat. Having that other game against Mumbai (Indians) where we were able to put up 190 and weren't able to defend was a bit frustrating. We had three good games in a row and were able to hit a bit of momentum at the back end, which was nice. Obviously, we would have liked to have done it earlier and started the competition well.

What have been your learnings from WPL 2024?

For me personally it has been an awesome opportunity to be able to open the batting in this competition. Batting in India is obviously always a bit different so just been learning about the conditions. Some of the tracks have been really nice to bat on, others have been a bit slow and taken a bit of a turn. Among other learnings was how to play with such a loud crowd where you can't really hear each other. It’s been a new experience for me. Also, getting exposed to a bunch of bowlers I have never faced before. That has helped me as a cricketer. Whenever I come to these competitions I try to learn as much as I can from other players, getting to spend time with new coaches as well has been awesome too. I just try and learn as much as I can when I come here.

What are the challenges you faced this season?

Opening the batting is always a bit difficult. The ball is sometimes moving around quite a lot early on and seeing a lot of players getting off to a fast start... it was difficult to manage my temper because I wanted to go really hard and get us off to a good start but at the same time the ball was moving around quite a bit. But it was alright and I enjoyed the opportunity.

How have you honed your technique to become the explosive batter that you are?

It is obviously something I like to work on a lot. I like to do drills and specifics and I will do it over and over again until I feel like my technique is working well. WPL has been nice. The wicket has been quite nice to bat on, so I have just had to time the ball and keep my shape which has suited me as a player. And the outfield has been lightning so I know if I just play good cricket shots I will get my value for runs. It has just helped encourage good cricket shots which has been cool.

Your thoughts on the technique vs power debate in the women's game?

It is obvious the players who have a lot of power are scoring a lot of runs but every player has their own individual way of scoring runs and hitting boundaries. Someone like Beth Mooney... it has been great to bat with her because she is always scoring runs but doesn't necessarily hit the biggest sixes. Watching her go about her game and hitting the gaps has been a great learning from the other end and that you don’t have to hit sixes every ball to be batting at a 180 strike rate like she has been.

South Africa has some solid talent coming through. What are the squad’s goals?

We are a young group. We have been playing some good matches. Our main goal is to be a bit more consistent. We have our games where we do really well and beat teams like Australia and then we have other games where we get bowled out for 100. So our main focus right now is to find a way to be more consistent with the bat and hopefully we can do well in the upcoming World Cups.

Talking of Australia, what will it take to challenge them?

The tour (of Australia in January-February) we just had was good proof that we are able to beat them. Before this tour we had never beaten them in our history and to get that win (Australia won both the ODI and T20I series 2-1) will mentally help us a lot because it is always difficult coming up against them in a World Cup knowing that we have never beaten them ever. So, to just have that mindset, to know we can beat them. Obviously, they are a world class side and we have to play our best game of cricket and a lot of things have to come together but knowing we can (win) will go a long way.

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