Captaincy has helped record-breaker Laura Wolvaardt bat for the Proteas Women team

Proteas Women captain Laura Wolvaardt set a SA ODI record score of 184 not out in a losing cause against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. Photo: EPA

Proteas Women captain Laura Wolvaardt set a SA ODI record score of 184 not out in a losing cause against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. Photo: EPA

Published Apr 19, 2024


SINCE she took over the captaincy in Pakistan at the beginning of the season, Laura Wolvaardt’s Proteas Women’s team have looked a real force in One-Day Internationals.

This season, they have only lost a series in Australia, a fate that almost every national team suffers Down Under.

But this week, Wolvaardt’s unbeaten 184 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom – a knock that saw the 24-year-old smash 23 fours and four sixes in a South African record – was eclipsed by Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu’s 195 not out in securing the win that saw the two sides draw the series 1-1.

Wolvaardt’s innings pushed the side’s total to over 300, a total that the team have struggled to consistently reach this season. Disappointingly, the Proteas somehow failed to defend the massive total and consequently lost the match.

“It’s very tough, especially failing to defend 300,” Wolvaardt told the media after the five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

“It’s not an easy one to take. A lot of that is me and the bowlers setting fields, plans not working and execution not quite being there, which is a bit frustrating.”

Despite the result, there were a lot of positives to take from the defeat and the season at large, especially for a captain who only has one season’s experience as a skipper in international cricket.

The series victory on the historic tour of Pakistan, beating Australia for the first time and doing so twice in their own backyard, were undoubtedly the highlights of the campaign for Wolvaardt and the team.

However, the main issue within the South African set-up remains their inability to consistently put together well-rounded performances where they execute properly with the bat, the ball and in the field.

Wolvaardt has taken note of where they have fallen short this season, and knows what needs fixing.

“We’ve had some really good moments and some really low moments,” said Wolvaardt.

“We were looking for some consistency, and I think we just found that now with the bat. We’ve had three decent knocks with the bat in the ODIs, but the fielding and the bowling could’ve been a touch better this series.

“Throughout the year as well, I think we’ve batted well in phases and bowled well in phases – but we haven’t necessarily put both together at the same time.

“We’ve had some big highs, winning for the first time in Australia, and had a couple of very disappointing results as well.”

One of the positives to take from Wednesday’s defeat is how Wolvaardt has adjusted her game to fit what the team currently requires.

In ODIs, the Proteas have been guilty of scoring too slowly and failing to reach big enough totals to challenge top teams.

However, Wolvaardt’s two centuries during the Sri Lanka series (110* and 184*) have shown how the captain is taking responsibility by upping her batting tempo in an attempt to meet the needs of the team.

The opening batter has credited her new-found batting tempo and form to her role as captain, saying the extra responsibility has made her more aware of the bigger picture.

“(Captaincy has) actually helped me as a batter. I feel I’m batting more for what the team needs, and not necessarily for my own game and my own stats,” she continued.

“I think if you’re just a batter, you could become a bit selfish and a bit obsessed with your stats at times and how you have performed on the day, whereas now I feel like I’m more aware of what the team needs, as a captain, and just try to do what’s best for the team in the middle.”