The International Cricket Council has announced the first five players selected as 100% Cricket Superstars ahead of a historic month for women’s cricket, culminating in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Sophie Ecclestone (England), Amelia Kerr (New Zealand), Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Shafali Verma (India) and Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa) are the first crop of what will ultimately be a 100% Cricket Superstars squad that fans can pick from to decide on a final XI.
Here, we feature South Africa's star batter Laura Wolvaardt.
An Under-19 cricketer by the age of 11, Laura Wolvaardt was quicker than most to climb up the ladders to the national team, and notched up her maiden ODI hundred at the age of 17, becoming the third youngest to achieve the feat in women's ODIs. She was named the Women’s Newcomer of the Year at Cricket South Africa’s annual awards in 2017.
Wolvaardt, known for possessing one of the best cover drives in the game, continued to excel in ODIs, clocking a batting average in excess of 45 by the age of 23. Her T20I career hit a peak in 2021, where she finished with 161 runs at an average of 51 and a strike rate of 161.0. She was named in ICC's Women's T20I Team of the Year 2021. The year also saw her captain the ODI side at the age of 21. In early 2022, Wolvaardt rose to No.1 in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's ODI batting rankings.
– No.4 in Women’s ODI Batting Rankings
– No.20 in Women’s T20I Batting Rankings
Wolvaardt finished as South Africa's highest run-scorer in the 2017 and 2022 Women's ODI World Cups. She made 324 runs at an average of over 60 in the 2017 edition, but topped it five years later in New Zealand, making 433 runs with five scores of over fifty, the most by anyone in the tournament.
A month before the 2017 World Cup, her first major tournament, Wolvaardt smashed her highest ODI score, a 149 against Ireland in the Women's Quadrangular Series game. Five years since then, she is in the midst of a stellar year in ODIs, having already made more than 800 runs in the format.
Frankie Mackay says
"She just makes cricket looks easy. It feels like everything is in slow motion when she is at the batting crease. Never rushed, never hurried, I am not sure she even breaks a sweat when she is out there either. [She] makes it looks so simple, and piles on the runs.
"She's already made 3000 ODI runs. She is one of those cricketers that if you hear the name, you can close your eyes and imagine the exact shot that she will be playing and that's the cover drive. There's no one else in world cricket that makes it look so easy...the timing, the placement, the elegance of it. It's a joy to watch. We could be seeing it for the next fifteen years if she really wanted to.
"Laura happens to be one of those infuriating people who just seems to be very good at everything she does. She is wonderful in the field. She takes these spectacular catches that you thought she'd never be close to.
She makes batting look like she was born to do it. I seldom see a false shot from her. The ability to play the cover drive off almost any delivery bowled to her is special and unique. She is one of the best cricketers I have ever seen."
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