30/05/2024

Laura Wolvaardt helped set a strong total for the Adelaide Strikers to help her side back to the winners list. (Photo: Adelaide Strikers WBBL/Twitter)

Sitting at 1/65 halfway through their batting innings, Laura Wolvaardt was the spark the Adelaide Strikers needed to swing the momentum their way.

After a slow start in the powerplay, young batting sensation Laura Wolvaardt helped turn the momentum in her side’s favour after untimely departures through the middle overs.

Wolvaardt was called to the crease at the conclusion of the drinks break after opener Katie Mack fell for 31 (28). She departed immediately after smacking the first six of the match, clean bowled by Lauren Smith.

Alongside Dane van Niekerk, Mack worked slowly but surely through the pre-drinks middle overs, taking the singles where they could as the South African international found the boundary to kickstart their batting momentum.

Though van Niekerk would continue to rack up the runs, it wasn’t to last. After her half-century, she departed for 58 (46) off the bowling of Sammy-Jo Johnson and the hands of Phoebe Litchfield in the outfield.

It was up to Wolvaardt to settle the ship, which she did accordingly. Hitting three sixes coming into the Strikers’ final two overs, she continued to edge her side towards a strong total.

What had previously looked like one of Adelaide’s lowest scores of WBBL|07 – going into drinks 1/65 – turned into their highest, finishing up at 4/176.

It started with a strong partnership with van Niekerk – a regular fixture of the Strikers with bat in hand – as the veteran of the pair hit three sixes off Deepti Sharma’s length bowling.

While Wolvaardt only managed two runs off her first over, the momentum built sharply from there. After van Niekerk departed, her partner in crime picked up steam.

The 22-year-old managed 13 runs in the 16th over, including her first six sailing off a slog sweep well through long on. The 18th over is where she shone though, with a scoreline of 4-1-6-4-6-2 off Sam Bates.

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Wolvaardt lost her wicket on the second last ball of the innings, finishing up on 54 off 32 balls with a strike rate of 168.75.

van Niekerk spoke to Strikers Media post game about the impact her teammate had.

“Laura batted incredibly well, she’s striking the ball so sweetly,” she said.

“It’s just nice to see her come off. I think she had one off four and she apologised… it was good.”

The South African veteran was satisfied with her own performance, scoring her second half century of WBBL|07.

“It was just nice to be able to do really well for the team,” van Niekerk said.

“Batting with ‘Wolfie’ [Wolvaardt], we understand each other really well. We’ve batted together not as often as I would have liked… but it’s special.”

The bowling

In just her third game on return after taking personal leave away from cricket, Megan Schutt gave up just four runs in her opening two overs, getting the Strikers bowling attack off to a perfect start.

She would finish 1/23 off her four bowling overs, bowling and catching Sammy-Jo Johnson.

There was a pause in play in the seventh over as a stray ball bounced flush into Maddie Penna’s face. She came off the ground looking relatively unscathed, and the match continued.

It was a fairly even bowling performance across the board, with four out of the six bowlers used taking wickets.

Amanda-Jade Wellington finished 2/38, while Tahlia McGrath had the best economy of the attack going 2/20 off her four overs bowled.

A strong all-round performance, it was the tonic the Strikers needed to wash down four losses straight and get themselves back into finals contention.

“Coming from a couple of losses is always hard on the team,” van Niekerk said.

“It’s just credit to [our] work ethic, the team’s been training really well. It’s satisfying, it’s a good win, but we really need to get this train moving in a winning direction.”

The Strikers will take to the field again on Wednesday against the Sydney Sixers at Karen Rolton Oval.

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