Laura Wolvaardt wouldn’t be a professional cricketer if she was English. Instead, she’d be in her final year at medical school, having been told aged 18 that talk of playing for England was premature, and she needed to graft away in domestic cricket for a few years first – the same things people are currently saying about Alice Capsey.
But she isn’t English, and aged 22 – a year younger than Sophia Dunkley – with over 100 caps on her head, she’s topping the batting rankings at a World Cup for South Africa.
Wolvaardt is not one of the 9 batters to have made a century in New Zealand this month, but she has been remarkably consistent, with 5 half-centuries in 7 matches at an average of 62. (The only player with a better average is Beth Mooney, who has been not out 5 times for an average of 113.)
Meg Lanning at number 2 has been less consistent, with 3 big scores, including a tournament-best 135* against South Africa, but 3 single-figure scores, including two ducks; proving that you get Meg Lanning early… or you don’t get her at all!
England’s highest-ranked batter is Nat Sciver, who has had a slightly odd few months. She’s making runs by the hatful, but she’s not converting those runs into wins for England. If you want to rule the world as a middle-order batter, you need to be there at the end – hence all those Not Outs by Beth Mooney’s name – but Sciver’s one Not Out score at this World Cup came when she wasn’t able to quite drag England over the line in the game against Australia; and otherwise she’s been dismissed with the job half done a little too often for a player of her class. (To be fair… effectively batting at “3” so much recently, due to the repeated failures of first Winfield-Hill and then Wyatt when opening, probably hasn’t helped.)
As alluded to earlier, Sophia Dunkley – who falls just outside the top 10 – is “what might have been” vis-à-vis the way South Africa handled Wolvaardt. She was given a brief chance in the T20 format aged 20, but quickly discarded when she didn’t instantly turn into the next Meg Lanning, and then didn’t make her ODI debut until she was older than Wolvaardt is today. It’s only now that she’s really starting to find her feet, aged 23, with her 67 against Pakistan being perhaps the first time she has looked like she genuinely believes she belongs at this level.
One interesting more general phenomena is that Strike Rates are slightly down on 2017. The top 20 leading run-scorers in 2017 averaged a Strike Rate of 83; but in 2022 that’s down to 80 – lower than it was in 2013, when it averaged 81. It’s a bit marginal to suggest there’s a trend down here, but what’s striking (or… not striking!!) is that there isn’t a trend up either, despite this being the most professional tournament yet.
|1. Laura Wolvaardt||7||433||78|
|2. Meg Lanning||7||358||87|
|3. Harmanpreet Kaur||7||318||92|
|4. Rachael Haynes||7||344||84|
|5. Sophie Devine||7||309||91|
|6. Smriti Mandhana||7||327||78|
|7. Nat Sciver||7||273||83|
|8. Suzie Bates||7||255||88|
|9. Beth Mooney||7||225||90|
|10. Hayley Matthews||7||226||82|
|11. Sophia Dunkley||7||209||87|
|12. Alyssa Healy||7||210||85|
|13. Sune Luus||7||249||71|
|14. Marizanne Kapp||7||182||95|
|15. Amelia Kerr||7||201||80|
|16. Tammy Beaumont||7||243||64|
|17. Pooja Vastrakar||7||156||99|
|18. Chloe Tryon||7||133||106|
|19. Danni Wyatt||7||138||99|
|20. Deandra Dottin||7||165||79|