What is Laura Wolvaardt?

Laura Wolvaardt creams one through the off side. © BCCI

Laura Wolvaardt started cricket as a hobby and didn’t want to miss out on the fun. She is quite competitive and wants to be the best at what she does – she writes songs, sings well, is excellent on the cricket field and plays a mean cover drive. Laura Wolvaardt wants to challenge the best and is quite versatile. Is one allowed to be so good at multiple things? Singer. Song writer. Hopeful student of medicine. ODI expert. T20 smasher. Cool stand-in captain. Batter extraordinaire… Wolvaardt is good at a number of things. But what is Laura Wolvaardt, really?

Okay, before we get down to looking at her recent exploits, let’s get the routine stuff out of the way.

In the first two T20Is of South Africa’s tour of West Indies – okay, one and a half games – Lizelle Lee and Marizanne Kapp were the standouts. Lee threatened to tee off in the first game before truly doing so in the second. She hit a belligerent 75 off 52 balls with 12 fours and a six; a strike rate of 144.23. As stupendous as these numbers are, this isn’t about Lee.

Meanwhile, Kapp batted at no.3 in both the T20Is at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and provided stability with the bat. She then picked up four wickets as well – three of them in the second game. But again, this is not about Kapp either.

Let’s turn our focus on to our protagonist, Wolvaardt, now, shall we? In the first T20I, she walked in with South Africa two down for 76 and soon saw them lose their third wicket on 87 with under five overs to go. Wolvaardt then got into the act, hitting two sixes and two fours in her innings.

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In the penultimate over, she slinked down the track, converting the fullish ball from Hayley Matthews into a full toss, and hit it over mid-off for four. Off the very next ball, she made room and hit a glorious stroke to the wide long-off fence. In the final over, Wolvaardt treated Shakera Selman with disdain. She made room to a full ball and hit one straight to the sight-screen for half a dozen before the pulling the final ball over deep mid-wicket for another six. She finished unbeaten on 35 off just 21 balls. South Africa managed to score 29 off the last two overs.

On Thursday, Wolvaardt took her beast mode to the next level. The right-hander came in at two for 122 with just under three overs left and saw Lee depart a couple of balls later. At that stage, South Africa were 126 for three.

Wolvaardt warmed up by hitting Anisa Mohammed’s final ball to the cover fence. But she reserved her special treatment for Matthews off the last four deliveries of the innings. First, she charged down, gave herself a bit of a room and hit one over long-off. She repeated the drill off the next ball, hitting it a bit straighter for another six.

The third delivery was duly despatched over deep mid-wicket after which Matthews’ frustration was evident. The West Indian bowled a seam-up ball on a length, which Wolvaardt gladly smashed over long-on to end the South African innings on a high.

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Wolvaardt, as she has been doing since the T20 World Cup last year, had yet again managed to change the course of the innings with the bat in the middle order. She finished unbeaten on 33 off just nine balls – a strike rate of 366.66! It is the second best for South Africa in a T20I.

A glance at Wolvaardt won’t tell you of the power she possesses. Perhaps, she isn’t first on the list of ‘key players’ that oppositions might draw up. You can hardly classify her as a basher or bludgeoner – terms reserved for Chloe Tryon, Deandra Dottin and the likes. And that is why the question about her classification is a pertinent one. What exactly is Laura Wolvaardt?

Some questions are best left unanswered.