Cricket fans around the world are currently engrossed as their national teams are battling it out for the ultimate honours in India.
The South African women’s national cricket captain, Laura Wolvaardt, knows a thing or two about navigating the high stakes of performing on the world’s stage.
She played a key role in South Africa making it to their first International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s T20 World Cup final earlier this year. And although the team came up short of winning the championship, she is still basking in the world cup afterglow.
“It’s every cricketers’ dream to play in a world cup final, so to have played in front of my family and friends at Newlands, my home ground, was incredibly special. Winning it would be my ultimate goal,” she says.
Her impressive performances throughout the competition earned her a place in the Upstox Most Valuable Team of the Tournament, and is remarkable when one considers that as a young girl, Laura never thought it would be possible to have an international career as a cricketer.
Why it’s important to dream big
Laura’s love for cricket started at an early age. She trained and played in a boys’ team right up until her teenage years.
“Growing up, I didn’t even know that there were girls’ cricket teams. I was just playing because I loved it so much. As a five-year-old girl, I never dreamt I would be where I am now, captaining South Africa and playing in leagues around the world,” she says.
Since those early days, Laura has also noticed positive developments for girls interested in the sport, saying,
Stamping her international playing passport
It was an opportunity overseas that landed Laura in Australia where she’s currently playing for the Adelaide Strikers in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). Earlier in the year she played for the Gujarat Giants in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India and found it really energizing to play in front of such passionate cricket supporters. Laura also played for the Manchester Originals in The Hundred, a short-form cricket tournament in England, in 2023, and considers it an honor to play at such historic cricket grounds.
As Laura’s international career takes off, her fanbase has also grown – yet her role model status is not something she takes lightly. “In the past, it was mainly people who knew us that would watch our games live,” she says, “but now we have so many young girls and boys coming to watch, and it’s always special meeting them and signing autographs after matches. I’ve even been sent a few videos of young girls practicing cover drives and practicing the warm-up that I do with a golf ball!”
Cover drives for the win
Laura is known for her cover drives, which is a graceful shot that relies on well-timed wristwork and a movement of the front foot toward the delivery of the ball.
Commentators have been known to call it the “Laura Wolvaardt cover drive” because of the ease at which she plays the shot.” Commenting on her favorite shot, Laura says, “I’ve worked very hard at the cover drive. As an opening batter, it’s a great option for opening up my off-side.”
Even though Laura is currently playing in Australia, she’s been keeping an eye on the men’s World Cup action taking place in India. She’s hoping the South African side can make it to the finals and go on to win their first World Cup title.
Changing lives through sport
As Laura’s star power continues to rise, she wants to use her platform to inspire positive change, saying, “I’d like to involve more girls in cricket, especially those who face barriers to entering the sport. I’ve always felt like I needed to get myself into a position in cricket where I had a voice, and now I finally feel as though I can start to help others achieve their cricket goals too.”
While Laura’s legacy is still in the process of being written, she’s already trail-blazed a path for a new generation of cricketers to follow in her footsteps; and as a young cricketer who sets such a wonderful example both on and off the field, we can’t wait to see what comes next.