Women’s World Cup: South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt on England, cover drives and power hitting | Cricket News

South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt, the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup, talks cover drives, power hitting, playing spin and more ahead of “massive” semi-final against England; watch live from 1.30am on Thursday on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup and the Sky Cricket YouTube channel

Last Updated: 30/03/22 12:13pm


South Africa's Laura Wolvaardt looks ahead to the World Cup semi-final against England and discusses her eye-catching cover drive

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South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt looks ahead to the World Cup semi-final against England and discusses her eye-catching cover drive

South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt looks ahead to the World Cup semi-final against England and discusses her eye-catching cover drive

England are one win away from the World Cup final.

If the defending champions are to secure a showdown with Australia on Sunday, then they may need to keep the No 1-ranked batter in women’s ODI cricket quiet during Thursday’s semi-final.

South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt, nicknamed ‘The Wolf’, has usurped Australia’s Alyssa Healy at the top of the standings after hitting a leading 433 runs at the World Cup, with five fifties in seven knocks, including a top-score of 90 against Australia.

The opener, 22, made one of her half-centuries against England, profiting from three dropped catches and a missed stumping to notch 77 from 101 balls in a three-wicket, last-over win for her side in the group stage.

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Wolvaardt possesses one of the most coruscating cover drives in the game but says adding to her skills has been key in her ascent to No 1 in the world.

The Cape Town-born player has taken it upon herself to score at a brisker rate in this World Cup, with opening partner Lizelle Lee, who usually provides the power to Wolvaardt’s panache, enduring a lean tournament with four single-figure scores out of six.

Wolvaardt said: “I have been working on power hitting and have added a couple more shots to my game, whether it’s hitting the spinners over the top or one or two sweeps – not too many yet, though! I have become a little bit stronger as well. Back in high school, I didn’t really go to the gym.

I like doing things exactly the same day after day, game after game, and it is paying off. The consistency is there.

Laura Wolvaardt

“Normally we rely on Lizelle to be explosive in the powerplay and get our strike rate up so it has been a new phase of navigating for me, trying to bat through but still get us off to a decent start.

“I have enjoyed it and am slowly getting better at it every game. Hopefully, I won’t have to do it again and she will be smashing it.

“The ‘she’s not that good at spin’ thing was quite a big thing for me so I worked quite a lot on that. I feel like I am going back to spin better now.

“Before I would kind of plant and get stuck on the front foot trying to look for the cover drive. Now I can get back and look leg-side a bit more. I think that has improved.”

Wolvaardt is the leading run-scorer in the 2022 World Cup, four  runs ahead of Australia's Rachael Haynes

Wolvaardt is the leading run-scorer in the 2022 World Cup, four runs ahead of Australia’s Rachael Haynes

On her dreamy cover drive, Wolvaardt added: “It is my favourite shot, something I have always been naturally good at.

“Opening the batting it has been really helpful because where bowlers bowl they are trying to nick you off, so I think a good cover drive helps.

“I have built a lot of my game around it but I have got to the point where I need to add more than just that because teams figured me out early on, packed the covers and made me get 100,000 dot balls!

“The harder I try and hit it, the worse it goes. You lose all your shape and your hip comes through, so I just try to time it, lean into it and it works a bit better.”

Georgia Elwiss, a member of the England squad in 2017 who took the Women's World Cup title, gives her take on what it would mean for the team to retain the trophy

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Georgia Elwiss, a member of the England squad in 2017 who took the Women’s World Cup title, gives her take on what it would mean for the team to retain the trophy

Georgia Elwiss, a member of the England squad in 2017 who took the Women’s World Cup title, gives her take on what it would mean for the team to retain the trophy

Wolvaardt scored 66 during South Africa’s narrow two-wicket defeat to England in the 2017 World Cup semi-final at Bristol.

That loss for the Proteas means the country is still waiting for either its women’s or men’s side to reach a World Cup final.

Wolvaardt is hopeful that will change this week, citing her team’s last-over victories against Pakistan, England, New Zealand and India as proof they can “hold their nerve” in key moments.

We have an opportunity to make South Africa really proud and to make history. I think that is the biggest thing for me as captain. We haven’t brought up 2017. It’s five years ago, teams have changed, players have grown a lot since that semi-final. I think we’ve become a way better team since then. That’s definitely in the past and we look at this as a whole new game in a whole new World Cup.

South Africa captain, Sune Luus

The right-hander said: “Our group-stage win [over England] was a bit close for comfort but that very well might happen again.

“We have been in a few close games now so hopefully we can use that to our advantage and hold our nerve.

“It is a massive game for us, we realise that, but it is about finding a way to pretend it’s just another game.

“We have had some good meetings around [never making a World Cup final before] and hopefully we can play some great cricket and be free of that.

“The core of players is still the same [from 2017] but we have a few new, fresh faces as well. Hopefully, we can be on the better end of the result this time.”

Watch South Africa take on England in the World Cup semi-finals, at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup and the Sky Sports Cricket YouTube channel from 1.30am on Thursday.


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