When Laura Wolvaardt went unsold in the auction for the inaugural Women’s Premier League, the South African batting mainstay was watching proceedings unfold in Paarl, hours before her team was to take on New Zealand in a T20 World Cup group fixture.
“I was watching the auction. We were playing a game that evening. So, it wasn’t the best timing. Obviously was disappointing to not get picked up. I think every cricketer would want to be here,” Wolvaardt told Sportstar on Friday.
When Gujarat Giants’ skipper Beth Mooney injured her calf in the opening minutes of Gujarat’s chase in the very first fixture of the tournament, Wolvaardt got a call from the Adani Sportsline-owned Gujarat management when she was preparing for a stint in Pakistan as part of the Women’s League Exhibition.
“It was all very last minute. I was already on my way to Pakistan and they asked me to join the squad. I had an awesome experience in Pakistan. They were very welcoming. Hopefully, they have a very successful league further,” Wolvaardt said, after her first practice with her new franchise.
It was quite an entrance for the wristy opener. The Gujarat social media team showed her a clip of the immensely popular entry sequence Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan has in the film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and got her to replicate it for the team’s channels.
“They showed me a quick clip of it but I didn’t see the whole movie. I do hear that it’s really famous here. I have to watch it now at some point now that I’ve been an actress,” she quipped.
The past few weeks have been hectic for Wolvaardt. The women’s national team became the first, across genders, to make it to the final of an ICC event. Despite the loss in the final, players still had social engagements with Cricket South Africa and the sponsors of the team. One chunk of players headed to India for the WPL, while a few of those who didn’t find takers in the auction here headed to Pakistan for the exhibition tournament. Wolvaardt expects things to slow down in India.
“It’s been a whirlwind two weeks. I am looking forward to settling in with this team and hoping to end with a good WPL campaign. So far, they’ve just been very welcoming. We’ve had a few discussions around my role and they want me to play my natural game. It’s been a good introduction so far,” she added.
The 23-year-old right hander is no stranger to India, having come here for both international and franchise cricket assignments.
“There have been pretty good batting wickets every time we’ve been over here. Most of the change has happened in the crowds though. The crowds are a lot bigger now than when I first toured here a few years ago,” she added.
Wolvaardt’s cover drives are frame-worthy and she joins a team with another player (although a mentor now) known for her picture-perfect drives - Mithali Raj.
When asked if we’ll see a who-did-it-best with the duo, the lanky opener laughed it off by saying she is here to do all the learning and make the best of the opportunity.
“For me, it’s just about learning as much as I can while I am over here. We’ll see what happens game time wise. I am just happy to be here and I’ll take it from there,”she said.
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