CAPE TOWN - Proteas women’s captain Dane van Niekerk believes Laura Wolvaardt has the potential to transfer her excellent one-day form into the T20 arena during the upcoming series against Bangladesh.
The teenage opening batsman was one of the stars of South Africa’s ICC Women’s World Cup campaign last year and has already moved past the 1 000-run mark in ODI cricket, where she averages 45.65.
However, Wolvaardt’s strike-rate of 62.83 in 50-overs cricket has been a concern, and more so in the shortest format. As a result, the 18-year-old has only played two T20 internationals compared to 28 ODIs.
But with the ICC World T20 due to be held in the Caribbean at the end of the year, Wolvaardt needs to be given as much exposure as possible for her to settle into her role.
“We will be playing as many T20 games as possible before the World T20,” Van Niekerk said. “We need to get our combinations right, especially our batting. I can’t really fault our bowling. Scores of 120, even 160, are a thing of the past in women’s T20 cricket and we need to get going.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why Laura has been called up. She might not have the explosiveness of someone like Lizelle Lee, but there is always place in the team for a player of Laura’s class. I am sure she will work out a game plan to be successful in T20 cricket.”
Wolvaardt has had greater exposure to T20 cricket recently after spending the past summer playing for Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash in Australia.
✅ She is the youngest centurion (Male or female) for South Africa
✅ Youngest Women to score the first 1000 in ODIs
✅ Awarded Newcomer of the year at @OfficialCSA annual awards
Birthday wishes to Proteas opener Laura Wolvaardt! pic.twitter.com/A3wZTULQRD
Van Niekerk is also excited by the inclusion of new caps Tazmin Brits and Stacey Lackay in the Proteas T20 squad. The skipper is especially keen to see Western Province all-rounder Lackay take the step up to the international stage.
“I think both Tazmin and Stacey have proved themselves. I am very excited to see them,” Van Niekerk said. “Stacey has been amazing in the domestic season, getting a hundred in the Women’s week, and we expect big things from her.”
The Proteas play a five-match ODI series against Bangladesh ahead of three T20s, and Van Niekerk is hoping for her team to get back to winning ways after losing both the ODI and T20 series to World Cup runners-up India at the beginning of the year.
“We always knew India was going to be a tough challenge. I thought we had the upper hand after beating them in the World Cup, but not playing since the World Cup put us a little on the back foot," she said.
“The results will come our way again. The girls are working hard and I am very excited to be back on the park with all of them again.”
The series will be played in Potchefstroom, Kimberley and Bloemfontein from 4-20 May.
Proteas ODI squad: Dané van Niekerk (captain), Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Mignon du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Suné Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Andrie Steyn, Zintle Mali.
Proteas T20 squad: Dané van Niekerk (captain), Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng), Suné Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Zintle Mali, Stacey Lackay, Tazmin Brits.