Wolvaardt still frustrated by Proteas’ inconsistency

18 April 2024 - 13:12
By Stuart Hess
Laura Wolvaardt said it's been a frustrating season for the Proteas, despite her own excellent form in the last two matches.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images Laura Wolvaardt said it's been a frustrating season for the Proteas, despite her own excellent form in the last two matches.

It may have been a long season for the Proteas women, but Laura Wolvaardt wouldn’t have minded if it continued for a few more weeks given the form she’s in.

“I told my mom that I was finally scoring runs now, just as the season ends, which is annoying, I’d like to keep going,” Wolvaardt said after setting a new South African ODI record in Potchefstroom on Wednesday night by scoring an unbeaten 184 against Sri Lanka. 

Her spectacular efforts were in vain however, as her opposite number Chamari Athapaththu, produced a magnificent performance of her own, making 195 not out — the third highest score in women’s ODIs — to drive her side to a historic victory, to tie the three match series 1-1.

By successfully chasing 302, the Sri Lankans notched up the highest winning score in an ODI, to claim just their second ODI triumph on South African soil. 

Wolvaardt’s annoyance at finally finding some good form — which saw her score centuries in her last two innings — was matched by her frustration with her team’s performance, not just on Wednesday but over the season. 

“Throughout the season I think we have batted well in phases, bowled well in others but not necessarily put both of them together at the same time. We had some big highs, winning a couple of times in Australia but also had some disappointing results as well,” she said. 

That is reflected in the team’s statistics: the Proteas won eight out of 15 ODIs, losing six and in the T20 format their record was worse, just four wins in 15 matches with eight defeats. With the T20 World Cup in September the next big ICC event on the horizon, those are worrying numbers. 

While happy with the consistency her side was able to achieve with the bat during the series with Sri Lanka, the bowling and particularly the fielding are areas for concern ahead of a World Cup. Athapaththu was given two chances on Wednesday night, which Wolvaardt stated would have changed the course of the match had they been grasped.

“Day’s like today are very tough, when you fail to defend 300. It's not an easy one to take. Me and the bowlers are setting fields and plans aren’t working and execution isn’t working, which is frustrating,” said Wolvaardt.

Wolvaardt said her own sparkling form in the two series against Sri Lanka, which also included a century in the first T20 International was down to hard work she put in last winter, and that after a difficult tour to Australia, a bit of luck too. 

“I don’t think I’m doing anything differently to what I did in Australia, it was just that I kept nicking off and now I’m not.”

“I’ve played a lot of T20 cricket, and used some of the things that I learnt there for my ODI game, which has allowed me to score faster and get bigger scores in ODIs. I spent a lot of time last winter working on my power hitting, and lots of different shots, though I’ve not really brought those out yet,” said Wolvaardt.

Even captaincy, which was unexpectedly thrust on her last September before the Proteas tour to Pakistan, has had a positive effect on her batting. “As captain I’m looking at the game from a different angle, I have to think about bowling plans, where my bowlers have to bowl and in that way it is helping me to plan my innings.” 

“I’m batting more for what the team needs and not necessarily for my own game or stats. As a batter, you can become a bit selfish, you get obsessed about your stats and how you perform on the day, whereas as captain I’m more aware of what the team needs.”