Sunday, December 4, 2022

CSA: A gem of a year for Laura Wolvaardt

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For Laura Wolvaardt the past season has been another big one in her quest to reach the top of the world.

The Momentum Proteas opener enjoyed a phenomenal time for her country all-round and the multiple nominations received for next month’s 2020 Cricket South Africa (CSA) Awards attest to that.

The 21-year-old is a candidate in six different categories after a special campaign for the national team.

She is a nominee for the Women’s T20 International Cricketer of the Year, the Women’s One-Day International Cricketer of the Year, SA Women’s Players Player of the Year, SA Fans’ Cricketer of the Year, SA Women’s Cricketer of the Year and the KFC Streetwise Award.

“It’s really special for me to be nominated for all these awards,” Wolvaardt beams. “The people I play with in my team, they’re really incredible cricketers.

“To be just noticed and recognised alongside them is really amazing. It’s an honour to think that people will even consider me, so it is surreal.

“I’ve always dreamt of playing with my heroes one day and now I am. So to be nominated is really special.”

The Cape Town Parklands College graduate may have only recently entered her 20s, but she is already a senior figure in the national team.

Wolvaardt, who burst onto the international scene in 2016, earned her 50th WODI cap this past summer, playing a central part in South Africa’s first ever series win over New Zealand – made even more special by the emphatic 3-0 whitewash on Kiwi soil.

She has a nearly 2000 runs in the 50-over format at an average of 45, with 382 runs alone coming over the past season.

The star batter also figured in the Proteas’ run to the ICC World T20 semi-final in Australia, a format where she has amassed 25 caps, scoring 427 runs.

“The highlight for me this past season would definitely have been the T20 World Cup,” she recounted. “I think just the way that we played as a team and the brand of cricket we played was really amazing.

“It’s been a long time coming for us and finally everything came together in the tournament. We really thought it was going to be our year but it didn’t happen. Anyhow I’m still really proud of the way we played and how close we got in the end.”

Wolvaardt is competing with Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka for the women’s ODI prize and with Lee, Nadine de Klerk and Shabnim Ismail for the T20 prize.

Lee, Ismail and Kapp are all battling the opener for the Women’s Players Player of the Year and overall Cricketer of the Year awards.

The KFC Colonel’s Always Original accolade is a contest between Lungi Ngidi, Mignon du Preez and Wolvaardt for specific performances – the latter’s being her outstanding unbeaten 53 against Pakistan at the World T20.

She concedes that her dream to reach the top of her sport continues, adding that a lot more hard work was needed before she could get there. In the meantime, she is enjoying being in the shadows and learning from the best around her.

“To reach the top, I think I’m already lucky that I had so many world-class players in the team already at the top,” Wolvaardt adds. “Marizanne, Shabnim, Lizelle…they’ve all been ranked in the top five or ten player rankings for as long as I’ve been playing in the team.

“So to play alongside them and to learn and see what they do is really amazing and cool. It doesn’t happen overnight and it take a lot of hard work, so I’ve learnt that there’s a lot more than just rocking up and playing.

“I’m lucky to have these players around me to show me the way and support me as I try to reach the top.”

The gala event to honour South Africa’s top performing cricketers over the past year will take place on Saturday, July 4 2020, in a virtual ceremony because of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

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