A magnificent first international century from opener Laura Wolvaardt, and a remarkable 4th international 5-for from leg spinner Sune Luus, sealed an unassailable 3-0 lead for South Africa in their ODI series versus Ireland.
Opening the batting with Trisha Chetty, who herself went on to make 95, Wolvaardt played positive but virtually chanceless cricket from the start, the seventeen year old taking the lead in a record first wicket partnership of 192, before finally swinging and missing at a straight one from Louise McCarthy, as she tried to push on after passing 100 – her knock ending on 105 off 125 balls.
A rapid 22 off 13 balls from Mignon du Preez looked dangerous, before she dozily allowed herself to be run out, hesitating outside her crease after surviving an LBW appeal; and Ireland thereafter pulled things back somewhat – veteran Ciara Metcalfe the pick of the Irish bowlers with 2-37 – as the visitors closed on 260-6.
Irish openers Clare Shillington and debutante Una Raymond-Hoey came out with real intent – hitting 26 from the first two overs, and reaching 38 before Shillington was bowled off the final ball of the 5th over. The run rate then slowed significantly as Ireland lost Cath Dalton and Gaby Lewis cheaply – the latter the first of Sune Luus’ victims, as she tried to loft her back over her head, and was caught off a shot that was all loft, and not enough back over head!
That brought Kim Garth to the crease, who put on 99 with Isobel Joyce, and had the Irish thinking “maybe, just maybe”; but after Joyce was caught, mis-cutting a full ball straight to du Preez at point, Ireland’s hopes rested on Mary Waldron staying with Garth. Waldron hung on for 5 overs, but with the run rate climbing, she came down the pitch to Luus and was stumped with the score on 191. Ireland were to add just 2 more runs to their total as they were bowled out for 193, Garth stranded on 51* and Luus finishing with 5-32.
Afterwards Laura Wolvaardt spoke to CRICKETher about her hundred:
“It is quite amazing – it hasn’t really sunk in yet but it is a great feeling and hopefully the start of many more. [On 99] I was more nervous than I think I’ve ever been in my life – it was really stressful. I’m just happy I got bat on ball and didn’t stay on 99 for too long, because I think I might have died!”