Women’s Cricket in the Caribbean
St Vincent and the Grenadines recently played host to three T20 matches between the women’s cricket teams of the West Indies and New Zealand. This came against the backdrop of the regional team having humbled the Kiwis in the One Day International (ODI) series in St Kitts and Nevis.
Unlike St Kitts and Nevis our beautiful homeland was treated to a different level of excitement with the Kiwis winning the first match, then the regional team equalized the series before a thrilling final that saw the match tied after 20 overs each. New Zealand won in the tie breaking over played under the T20 rules.
The final outcome was a major disappointment for the relatively large crowd on hand at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex on Saturday last.
Women’s cricket in the Caribbean has had a rather challenging history. Early rumblings saw interest lead to the formation of a regional cricket body for women, the Caribbean Women’s Cricket Federation) on 25 May 1973. Monica Taylor was the first president with Jean Carmino as General Secretary.
The first Caribbean Tournament was held in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada, the aforementioned countries joined by Jamaica and eventual winner Barbados. Following the competition the first West Indies Women’s team named with Louise Browne of Trinidad and Tobago named captain.
In 1976 the West Indies women played host to Australia in a two test series which ended in a draw. Later in the same year the West Indies women visited India where the series also ended in a draw.
In 1977 the second Caribbean Women’s Cricket Tournament was held, this time in Grenada alone. Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and host, Grenada, contested. Trinidad and Tobago emerged champions.
In 1979 the West Indies women’s team visited England where they suffered defeat at the hands of their hosts.
It took another three years before the third regional women’s cricket tournament as held. Guyana hosted the competition that saw Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados join them. Trinidad and Tobago again emerged victorious.
In 1982 Jamaica hosted the fourth regional tournament that saw only Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada joining the host nation. Once more Trinidad and Tobago took top honours.
It should be noted that after the 1982 tournament interest waned significantly and it was not until 1988 that a revival took place with Trinidad and Tobago playing host, with participating teams from Jamaica, St Lucia and Grenada involved. Trinidad and Tobago again won the competition.
The sixth tournament was played in Jamaica in 1989 with Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia joining the hosts. Once more the honours went to Trinidad and Tobago.
Annual tournaments were held in the following years and in 1993 the regional team participated in the Women’s Cricket World Cup for the first time, in England, finishing a creditable fifth.
In 1997, the team again participated in the World Cup in India but could only accomplish a ninth place finish.
In 1998 the regional body changed its name to West Indies Women’s Cricket Federation (WIWCF).
Overtures to St Vincent and the Grenadines eventually led to the formalisation of a national organisation led by Cinda Bobb, at the time an employee with the Police. She enlisted the assistance of Patricia Fraser, Stanley ‘Gunny’ Hinds and Keith Joseph in the process.
Growing interest and consistent participation at the regional level led to Cinda Bobb and Keith Joseph being elected to the executive of the WIWCF as Treasurer and Public Relations Officer respectively.
On Friday 16 January 2004 the WIWCF met with the president of the West Indies Cricket Board, Teddy Griffith, at the Jolly Beach Hotel, Antigua and Barbuda, to formalise the relations between the two organisations and to place firmly on the regional agenda the initiatives being taken at the international level to bring women’s cricket under the umbrella of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Happily, while it did take a few years to happen, the ICC and the International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC) merged and the rest is history.
Today’s reality sees the West Indies women cricketers holding their own in the world. Performances have been along a consistent path towards development, earning the region much respect in the international arena to the point where they may at times be more highly regarded and respected than their male counterparts.
Stefanie Taylor of Jamaica and Deandra Dottin of Barbados have earned places in the ICC’s batting rankings for ODIs. In bowling, Taylor, Anesia Mohammed and Daley are among the top tier. Taylor and Daley are highly ranked among the allrounders in the ODI.
In the T20 ICC rankings, Dottin and Taylor feature while in the bowling Mohammed and Daley are the West Indies in the top tier. Taylor alone features among the best allrounders in the world in the T20 version of the game and is generally considered one of the best in the world.
The aforementioned individual achievements speak to the due attention now paid to the development of the sport among Caribbean girls and women.
In several Caribbean countries there are schools’ women cricket competitions
Over the past few years the steady climb of the West Indies women’s cricket team has eventually led them to the top of the world rankings after defeating New Zealand in the ODI series recently in the Caribbean, a feat that must have left their male counterparts green with envy.
Some may say it has been long in coming but to all and sundry it is a most welcome feature of sport in the Caribbean.
However, there are some important straws in the wind that must be addressed.
As so often happens many critics are unhappy with the selection process. For example, some cite the number of Barbadian players on the team in comparison with the performance of their national team in the region’s most recent edition of the West Indies Women’s Cricket Tournament. There is a strong feeling in some quarters that this is not fair to the development of the game in the region.
Additionally, there is a feeling that not enough is being done by the respective national cricketing bodies to assist in the expansion of the game among girls and women in their respective domains. While many are appreciative of the growth of the game and the regional side’s enhanced performance they wish to see more attention paid and resources allocated to the expansion of the game nationally.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines there remains much concern that despite once having two players on the West Indies women’s cricket team, Juliano Nero and Pat Jack, the game is yet to be introduced to girls at the nation’s primary and secondary schools. The argument is that this shortcoming is sure to hinder any sort of developmental pathway for girls and women in the sport here at home.
St Vincent and the Grenadines can be easily left behind the development process in the women’s version of the game because of our hesitation.
We have heard some rumblings that the new executive at the local level are beginning to show some more interest in women’s cricket and that one coach has already been identified to assist with the drawing up of plans. We wait to see what emerges from this.
Patrons at Arnos Vale on Saturday last were well into the game. Some were quite impressed with the many of performances they saw in the different aspects of the game despite their obvious bias towards the regional side.
Many were however disappointed in the similarity of some attitudes evident amongst the West Indian players, often associated with the male team.
There was a sense in which the approach to batting in the final session of the final game did not meet expected standards.
The New Zealanders had struggled to get beyond 100 runs and the chase should have been relatively easy for the regional team. However the attitude was not right in all cases.
Indeed, before the start of the match many were disappointed that Stefanie Taylor did not play. Some may have pondered whether it was a matter of health or a desire to maintain her current batting average and ranking.
Like so many of the male West Indies players, some of the strokes played by the women on Saturday while chasing a relatively small target only highlighted the failure to apply themselves; to engage brain in full. The final over of the match was perhaps the very best example of what we are addressing here.
Deandra Dottin was at the crease for the final over. She struck a six off the third ball of the over. Rather than compose herself for the task in hand she jumped up and down the pitch with hands punching the air and urging on the spectators to erupt in support, or possible adulation, or whatever…
The very next ball she sought to repeat the previous stroke and got out; caught quite easily.
That was the end of that!
Everyone knows that at whatever level the game of cricket is played the match is never considered over until the last ball has been bowled.
It is not by accident that cricket has come to be described as a game of glorious uncertainties. No player ought to allow herself to be so overawed by her own performance at any point in time as to ignore the reality of the game still being far from over.
The decision to send Dottin back to face the tie-breaker over may well have been an error of judgement on the part of the team’s leadership. She had already been a spent force, attitudinally, and should not have been chanced.
It also seemed inappropriate to call upon a first timer to face the challenge of the tie-breaker over as well.
West Indies Women’s Cricket has become a new frontier for girls and women of the Caribbean. There is no doubt that they will excel there as they have done is every field of endeavour to which they have committed themselves.
St Vincent and the Grenadines possesses girls and women with the talent required to elevate them on to the West Indies team and to the top of the international rankings.
It is the responsibility of the national association to create the developmental pathway for the girls and women.
We anxiously look forward to the realisation of this fantastic opportunity for the nation’s girls and women.