Laura Wolvaardt bats for more red-ball domestic cricket

The Indian women’s cricket team is currently hosting South Africa for a multi-format series from June 16 to July 9. India has swept the three-match One Day International (ODI) series 3-0 and now the longer format of the game awaits both teams. Ahead of the one-off, four-day red-ball Test match from June 28 to July 1, the South Africa women’s team captain Laura Wolvaardt in an interview with ESPNcricinfo’s Powerplay podcast talks about what it’s like playing tests as a national women’s team.

Laura Wolvaardt bats for more red-ball domestic cricket
Laura Wolvaardt bats for more red-ball domestic cricket

This one-off test at Chepauk will be South Africa’s third Test in the last two years, and India’s fifth in the last three years.

Laura expressed a strong desire to play more Test cricket despite the challenges posed by the lack of domestic red ball experience. She compares preparing for a Test match without regular domestic fixtures to studying for an exam at the last minute, highlighting the need for more consistent opportunities to refine their skills and understanding of Test cricket nuances like field placements and strategies.

Laura believes that regular Test matches will improve the quality of the games and suggests integrating Test cricket into domestic structures to build a stronger foundation and knowledge base among players.

Quoting Laura, “I definitely want to play more test cricket. I really enjoyed the one that we got to play. I think it’s almost two years ago now. But yeah, it is a massive challenge not having any domestic red ball experience to go straight into an international test match, sort of like studying for an exam last minute, trying to cram in all the knowledge about test match fields and plans and all of that.

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“But yeah, I would love to have more of it in the calendar. I think the more regularly we do it, the better the product will be. But obviously playing one test every two years, there’s a chance that the games won’t be that great. If it’s not something that we get to practice regularly. And it’s probably something that would have to come into domestic cricket a little bit as well, just to sort of develop that base and the knowledge of the red ball.”

Wolvaardt advocated for more regular Test matches, emphasizing her reasons for this preference. She enjoys the challenge and the intricate battles within the larger contest that Test cricket offers. She believes Test cricket is the truest form of the game, where any technical shortcomings or deficiencies in a player’s skill are more likely to be exposed. In contrast to T20 cricket, where aggression and intent can sometimes mask these issues, Test cricket requires genuine skill and mastery of the art.

“It’s just for the challenge. I love watching Test cricket just to see the little battles within the battles,” Wolvaardt said. “It’s sort of the more real form of cricket. And I think you get exposed if some technical things are lacking or if something is not up to scratch in your game. In T20 cricket, you can sometimes get away with something just because you’re going hard and showing a lot of intent, whereas in Test cricket, I think it’s more [of] your actual skill and your actual art.”

After the one-off Test match, both teams will compete in three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) from July 5 to July 9, all taking place in Chennai.

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(Quotes sourced from ESPNcricinfo’s Powerplay podcast and ESPN)

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