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Wolvaardt on Test debut: “A childhood dream come true”

Superstar batter, Laura Wolvaardt recently realised a lifelong dream when she became one of nine South African debutants to feature in the drawn once-off Test match between the Momentum Proteas and England that took place at the County Ground in Taunton last week.

Wolvaardt, who plays domestically for the Six Gun Grill Western Province, is a key cog of the strong 15-player contingent that is in England for a multi-format tour that includes the recently-concluded Test, along with three One-Day Internationals (ODI) and three T20 Internationals (T20I) from 11 – 25 July.

Despite only managing scores of 16 in both innings in her first-ever four-day game, the 23-year-old thoroughly enjoyed the experience of donning the white Test kit, as well as all the challenges the format presents.

“It was an incredible week,” the soft-spoken cricketer began. “Test cricket is something that I have always wanted to play since I was a little girl, so to be able to do that and debut with a whole bunch of the team was a great experience.

“It was really tough, from a cricket point of view. The red ball was very tough to face and I had some challenging innings up front. Overall, it was a great learning experience, I will learn a lot from it going forward and hopefully, it is the first of many,” she commented.

In last week’s encounter in Somerset, the young South African side that was without experienced names such as Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Trisha Chetty and Chloé Tryon were not only playing their first Test match since 2014 but they were also tasked with taking on an England side, who have played seven Tests in the same period, in their own backyard.

Faced with unfamiliar conditions, a new format to most of the team and demanding game situations that only Test cricket can pose, Wolvaardt and her teammates had a lot of adjustments to make.

“We had some very tough conditions,” Wolvaardt said. “A bit of rain around, (playing) in England, with the Duke ball; a ball that does a lot more than what I am used to and having to leave balls that I am normally conditioned to play. Especially for my game, where I built my game quite a lot around cover drives and playing at wide balls, and now I wasn’t allowed to do any of that. It’s definitely something I would have to practice quite a bit to get right in the long run.  

“It was mentally a tough challenge but I will learn a lot from it and hopefully I can handle it a bit better next time,” Wolvaardt added.  

Although the Test match is an intriguing part of the tour to the United Kingdom for the Proteas Women, Hilton Moreeng’s charges now turn their attention to limited overs cricket against the hosts, with a trio of ODIs up first, beginning on Monday, 11 July at the County Ground in Northampton.

According to Wolvaardt, the Test experience will also benefit her in the 50-over game from a technical and opposition scouting point of view, while she also looks forward to seeing her side continue their outstanding form in the one-day format while reviving the rivalry between South Africa and England.

“For me, the Test was all about just making sure my technique is right and try and get into strong positions. The basics will stay the same for the ODIs, so it will actually be good because I have done a bit of technical work now leading up to the ODI series, so hopefully, I will be able to time the ball well going into it,” she continued.

“Overall, just (getting the chance of) facing their bowlers in tough conditions, all of that will help with the ODI series. Hopefully, it will be a bit easier now with the white ball; so fingers crossed.

“We are very excited going into the ODI series. We had a bit of a mixed bag of results against them this year; we won the first game (at the World Cup) and then very disappointingly lost the semi-final, so very exciting to get going against them.

“We have a very exciting ODI team and it is a format that our team enjoys and is very good at, so hopefully we can give them a bit of a run for their money and payback for the semi-final,” Wolvaardt added.  

Ahead of the ODIs, South Africa will be sharpening up their white-ball skills with two warm-up matches against the England ‘A’ side in the coming week, with a T20 match on Monday, 04 July at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Wales before a 50-over clash at the Grace Road County Ground in Leicester.

Momentum Proteas Tour to England Itinerary: 

Warm-Up Matches –  

Monday, 04 July @ 14h00 local time T20 – South Africa vs England A (Sophia Garden, Cardiff)

Thursday, 07 July @ 11h00 local time – 50-over – South Africa vs England A (Grace Road County Ground, Leicester)

One-Day International Series –  

Monday, 11 July @ 14h00 local time – 1st ODI – England vs South Africa (The County Ground, Northampton) 

Friday, 15 July @ 14h00 local time – 2nd ODI – England vs South Africa (Bristol County Ground, Bristol) 

Monday, 18 July @ 14h00 local time – 3rd ODI – England vs South Africa (The Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester)  

T20 Series –  

Thursday, 21 July @ 19h00 local time – 1st T20 – England vs South Africa (The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford) 

Saturday, 23 July @ 14h30 local time – 2nd T20 – England vs South Africa (Blackfinch New Road, Worcester) 

Monday, 25 July @ 18h30 local time – 3rd T20 – England vs South Africa (The Incora County Ground, Derby)