The Women’s T20 Challenge is just around the corner as the three-team tournament gets underway on Monday at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. Proteas batter Laura Wolvaardt will be representing the Deepti Sharma-led Velocity this season. 2022 has been a great year for the right-handed batter as she showed great form in the Women’s World Cup. In a conversation with NDTV, Wolvaardt opened up on her expectations from the upcoming tournament and how a potential Women’s IPL can help take the game forward.
“I am very excited to be playing for Velocity in the Women’s T20 Challenge. It is a short tournament but I think it will be loads of fun. I am really excited to spend some time with the team and get to know everyone. I am very honoured and privileged to be a part of it. I think the games would be very exciting,” Wolvaardt told NDTV.
“Definitely excited to be playing alongside her (Shafali Verma), she is incredibly talented. She is extremely powerful, I am happy to be on her team for a change. I am excited to see how she goes about her business in the nets and in the game. Very excited to play with her,” she said, while speaking about the young India opener.
The buzz around the Women’s IPL has already started gaining momentum and it seems that the much-anticipated tournament will probably get underway next year once it is ratified at the BCCI’s AGM this year.
Talking about Women’s IPL, Wolvaardt said: “I think the Women’s IPL next year would be incredible. Obviously, it is something a lot of players have been waiting for it for a long time. It would be really good for the game. India are such a strong side and they have put on performances again and again so very excited for them to have their own league and I hope it works out. It would be incredible to be a part of it.”
In the past few seasons, Mithali Raj led the Velocity team in the tournament and Wolvaardt said that she was looking forward to sharing the dressing room with the Indian great. However, the veteran India batter is not going to be a part of the tournament.
“Yes, I was looking forward to playing with her (Mithali) and learning from her. Obviously, I think overall she has had an incredible impact on the women’s game and she has helped develop the game. In India, I think she is a national hero and to be able to play with her would have been very awesome. But there are lots of other players in the team and I am looking forward to playing with them,” said Wolvaardt.
In the Women’s World Cup held in New Zealand this year, Wolvaardt registered 433 runs for South Africa and she played a key role in the side reaching the semi-finals stage. The batter revealed that she did not have an attacking game initially and had to really work hard on it.
“I think the team and I had a very good Women’s World Cup overall. Obviously, we would have loved to go one step further and reach that final. Just staying calm under pressure, I really enjoy opening the batting in ODI cricket and I know my role really well and it takes a lot of pressure off me just because I know what to do and I have an idea where I should be in certain points of the game. So my job basically is to bat for as long as I can and hold the innings together for the team. Being clear in my role in every single game has helped me in my career,” said Wolvaardt.
“I think growing up I was just a 50-over cricketer. A lot of people put me in that box I guess, I did not have many attacking shots or have the strength or power to go into that next few gears. So, it is definitely something I had to consciously work on and develop the T20 game, develop more shots and power. It was a combination of gym work and knowing which areas are my strengths in the field and staying to that game plan. It has not been always the case that I have been both attacking and conservative. The cricketer I probably look up to is Meg Lanning from Australia. She is pretty good all-round and I aspire to be as good as all-round as she is,” she stated further.
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