Saluting our women cricketers

Saturday, February 16, 2013

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For Jamaican sport lovers, at least, news that West Indies women had defied the odds to reach the final of cricket's World Cup may have sent a flicker of light through the gloom cast by the IMF-related economic austerity measures.

Women's cricket has always languished in the shadow of the men's game, with Australia, England and New Zealand as the dominant teams.

Increasingly, in recent years, even as the need for gender equality in all walks of life has taken on greater relevance, the women's game has been stepping out of the shadows. And with that move, the so-called lesser teams such as India, West Indies and Sri Lanka have been flexing their muscles.

Even so, not many neutral observers would have expected the West Indies to reach the final of this World Cup. They have done so not just with good, solid performances, but with typical Caribbean flair.

Also, top players, including Ms Stafanie Taylor and Ms Deandra Dottin, have underlined their status as international stars in the women's cricket firmament.

The success of the regional team comes in the wake of the triumph of their male counterparts in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka last year. Justifiably, we believe, the much-criticised West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has sought to underline its own role in the progression.

WICB President Dr Julian Hunte places the latest success in the context of what he describes as the "progressive path upon which West Indies cricket has been placed".

There can be no question that the WICB programmes have considerably strengthened the women's game at the international level. Add to that the unwavering determination and steel for which Caribbean women are well known.

What's truly extraordinary about the performance of our women cricketers is that they have achieved this without the kind of preparation at the school, community and club levels taken for granted in the men's game.

In Jamaica, for example, there's no school's cricket league for girls. Ms Taylor, ICC women's cricketer of the year in 2011 and OD1 Cricketer of the year in 2012, has achieved excellence despite the developmental hurdles and deficiencies.

It must surely be time for the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) -- that remarkable group which has done so much for Jamaican sport for more than a century -- to bring girls cricket on board, working in partnership, we hope, with the Jamaica Cricket Association.

What is certain is that the historic performance of the West Indies women at the World Cup in India will make it easier for interested administrators to establish the very necessary developmental programmes at school, club and community levels, even in hard economic times such as these.

Our women will enter tomorrow's final against Australia (tonight Caribbean time) knowing that they have already created history, but determined to push the boundaries of excellence still further by winning the World Cup. Mighty achievers that they are, we wouldn't put it past them. We wish them well.




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