INTERVIEW: Stafanie Taylor On West Indies Women’s Cricket And (Finally) Winning A World Cup

What does it feel like to win a World Cup? Stafanie Taylor knows. “I was speechless,” she told us when we interviewed her over the summer, during her time playing for Western Storm in the inaugural KSL. “I couldn’t sleep at night! Every time I closed my eyes I kept thinking ‘we actually won the World Cup!’ And there were just so many messages from people back home, how they are very proud of us. It was really good to have that kind of support.”

For Taylor, who was named Player of the Tournament, her side’s victory in the Women’s World Twenty20 earlier this year has been a long time coming – the culmination of many ups and downs since she made her debut for West Indies back in 2008, aged 17. “Back then we were a fairly young team. Now I think we have evolved.”

“Over the last few years we’ve been playing against top teams and beating top teams [they’ve defeated England and India in ODI and T20 series’ since 2009]. Two times [in 2010 and 2012] we’d been in the semi-final, so I would say we’d had enough of that!”

Losing to Australia in the 2013 50-over World Cup final, she says, also spurred her team on all the more in April’s tournament final: “[In 2013] a lot of the players cried. We wanted to play Australia – it was so good to meet them in the final and come out victorious.”

It’s interesting to hear Taylor reflect on what she sees as the crucial steps on the road to the rise of Caribbean women’s cricket as a force to be reckoned with. The awarding of the first ever paid contracts to women players by the West Indies Cricket Board back in 2010, she says, was probably the most important factor:

“That was a huge step. A lot of us had been going to school and working, now we could see something coming in. It might not be much but at the end of the day we could go out and train and then after we could have a good meal.”

“Before the contracts I was going to school [university] – when you are trying to get schoolwork done and train it’s never easy.”

Better access to top-quality coaching has also been key. Taylor acknowledges that quality coaching in the women’s game was hard to obtain when she was first entering the game, but says her own development owes a lot to the appointment of ex-international Sherwin Campbell as national women’s coach between 2008 and 2015:

“He’s a wonderful guy, he knows the game inside out. He is very passionate about what he does. I remember one time when we lost a game at a World Cup his eyes filled with water. At that time when you have a coach like that you definitely want to keep them.”

And of course the Women’s Big Bash League played a role. Taylor – who represented eventual champions Sydney Thunder in the inaugural WBBL, hitting 372 runs and taking 10 wickets – laughs as she recalls the moment she found out she would be playing in the tournament:

“I got a call from Nick Cummins [Thunder General Manager]. I was actually in the bathroom! And I wasn’t going to answer the phone but I actually did! And he was like, ‘it’s Nick Cummins from Sydney Thunder. Would you be interested to come over and play?’ And I was like, “um, could you give me 10 minutes and I’ll ring you back?!” And then I called him back and we had a chat.”

Playing in Australia, she says, “has toughened me up. The way they play their cricket is a lot different to how we play it in the Caribbean. They are really tough.”

One positive outcome of the World Cup victory has been the shift in attitudes towards women’s cricket in the Caribbean. When Taylor was named the Jamaican Cricket Association’s Cricketer of the Year in 2009, having achieved the ranking of number 5 on the ICC’s list of female all-rounders within 12 months of making her international debut, there were many disgruntled voices at the time who claimed that a mere woman was undeserving of the honour. Taylor says her team’s World Cup victory has made a difference to these kind of attitudes. “For us as the older ones, we were like the pioneers. Things have changed now.”

What of the future? Taylor is excited. “This is just the start,” she says. “We have the Big Bash and the Super League, it is really good for the game, really good for female sport. And we hope that soon we will have a female CPL [Caribbean Premier League].”

For the time being, her focus will be on ensuring that West Indies win their ODI series decider against England, to be played later today. With Taylor at the helm – she made 85 and took 3-22 in the last game on Sunday – you wouldn’t bet against it.

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Random Thoughts: West Indies v England 4th ODI

England’s Bowling

  • Although Beth Langston was apparently fit and available, England chose not to change a winning team, meaning they went in with only one “strike” bowler, and Nat Sciver again opening the bowling. Although Sciver did get the early wicket of Hayley Matthews – a fantastic catch by Lauren Winfield – England just didn’t have any penetration, and it wasn’t until the 24th over that the next wicket fell, as Shaquana Quintyne went to an even better catch by Danni Wyatt.
  • It has to be said that England didn’t let the West Indies “get away” either – they kept them pegged-back to around 4/ over, and at the 40-over mark it could have gone either way for the hosts from 162-4; but in the end with wickets in hand, they knew they could start to push, and push they did – scoring at over 6/ over in the last 10, to finish on 223, leaving England facing the highest run-chase ever for victory in a women’s ODI in the Caribbean*.

* Thanks to @_hypocaust on Twitter for the tip!

England’s Batting

  • England’s reply began in fantastic fashion – this was arguably Tammy Beaumont’s best innings in an England shirt – 57 runs in a pressure-cooker situation (both literally and metaphorically) away from home, against a top, top team – she played positively, striking the ball with power and timing, and together with Lauren Winfield (51) drove England into a match-winning position.
  • At 90-odd for no wicket, we were waiting for the West Indies to mentally disintegrate, as they had in the 3rd ODI last week – Deandra Dottin bowled a ridiculous wide bouncer – a sure sign of frustration about to boil-over…
  • But… but…
  • West Indies are a “confidence” team – when they are down, they are very, very down; but when they are up, they can be very, very up, very, very quickly, and that is just what started to happen. England mentally disintegrated and the West Indies ran them through with a broadsword – Sciver 3; Wyatt 0; Elwiss 9; Jones 0; Brunt 1; Gunn 0; and Alex Hartley 0 Not Out at the end – only Heather Knight (36) and Laura Marsh (13) made it into double-figures after the openers.

Overall, this certainly feels like the worst performance of the Robinson era – worse than the loss to South Africa, where the Proteas chased down 262; worse than the World T20 semi-final defeat, where they collapsed, but not quite like this.

On the other hand, the West Indies are a smashing team on their day – Stafanie Taylor is a “Big Game” player, as anyone who saw her in the Super League will testify, and she was fantastic today – top-scoring with 85 and taking a brilliant caught & bowled to dismiss Knight… all despite clearly playing through an injury.

England can still go on to win this series on Wednesday – it is a new day and a new game of cricket – and one thing is for sure – Mark Robinson will have them up for it!

NEWS: This Week In Brief

Women’s International Championship

  • New Zealand took another step towards England 2017 with a 2-1 Championship series win over South Africa, with Lancashire Thunder’s Amy Satterthwaite the star of both the White Ferns’ two victories, taking 4-13 in the 1st ODI and scoring 89* in the 3rd.
  • In the 2nd ODI, Mignon du Preez scored 80 as South Africa chased-down 222 with just 5 balls to spare, to record their 1st ever one-day victory against the Kiwis.
  • Meanwhile, England and the West Indies resume battle this afternoon, with England looking to seal the series with a victory today, after Friday’s win in Jamaica. (Should England win all 3 Championship matches, they are guaranteed automatic World Cup qualification; though even if they don’t, they should still easily qualify, with their remaining 3 games being against bottom-placed Sri Lanka later this year.)

World Cup 2017

  • Talking of 2017… tickets go on sale later this week, and here is a sneak preview of the “Who Runs The World?” promo campaign which is set to launch the tournament:

WNCL

  • The opening weekend of Australia’s 50-over WNCL saw the Queensland Fire make the early running, with victories over the Tasmania Roar and the New South Wales Breakers, and a dramatic tie with the South Australia Scorpions – they head the table from the New South Wales Breakers and the Vic Spirit, the latter with a game in hand.
  • There were centuries for Alyssa Healy (159 v Tasmania Roar), Charlotte Edwards (100 v Queensland Fire), Sarah Elliot (100* v ACT Meteors), Meg Lanning (107* v ACT Meteors) and Alex Blackwell (113* v Queensland Fire) – with more than twice as many centuries scored already as in the entire Women’s County Championship Div 1 season, the WNCL’s reputation as a batsman’s paradise rolls on!

And Finally…

  • Ex Southern Star Jess Cameron has been drafted by Melbourne’s Collingwood to play in the new Women’s Australian Football League – she’ll take the field next winter (i.e. UK summer) in the inaugural 8-team semi-professional competition, for which players will be paid up to a salary-capped $25,000!

NEWS: 2020 Twenty20 To Be Standalone

Cricket Australia has released more information on the reasons behind their decision to host the 2020 Women’s World Twenty20 separately from the men’s competition, as approved by the ICC yesterday.

The tournament was originally intended to be a double-header competition with the men’s and women’s matches played across the same period, as has been the case in previous competitions.

However, the success of the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League – which featured record crowds and peak viewing figures of over 400,000 – convinced Cricket Australia that a standalone women’s tournament was the right way forward.

The women’s tournament will now take place in February and March of 2020, with the men’s version to follow in October/November.

CA Chairman David Peever said:

“Having the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 as a stand-alone event means we can hold it in stadiums that we can fill, put on TV at prime-time and ensure it has the space to be promoted as the main event, away from the shadow of the men’s game.”

 “WBBL has taught us that there is an audience for women’s cricket both live and on prime-time television and this decision means we have the opportunity to hold the biggest women’s sporting event ever held in Australia.”

The decision comes on the back of the last joint World Twenty20 in India, which was widely regarded as disappointing for the women’s game, with many of the matches played out to empty stadiums.

Random Thoughts: West Indies v England 3rd ODI

England’s Batting

  • It was a battling batting performance from Lauren Winfield (79) and Nat Sciver (58) which set England up for the win – it wasn’t easy out there, but they fought hard for their runs and England reaped the reward.
  • Having said that… from where England were at the 40-over mark, they should really have been looking at a score closer to 240. But once again they lost their last few wickets rapidly – going from 208-6 to 220 all out. While this wasn’t a disaster, it does reinforce our point from the other day that the fragility of England’s tail is being exposed for the first time under the Nouveau Régime.

West Indies’ Fielding

  • Dire!
  • (Enough said!)

England’s Bowling

  • It was confirmed today that Anya Shrubsole will be out for the rest of the tour. Are England missing her? Yes. There’s a reason why Nat Sciver (despite being originally selected by England as a bowler back in 2013) is these days a batsman-who-bowls rather than a bowler-who-bats – she looks a bit out of her depth opening the bowling at this level and England will be really hoping Beth Langston will be fit for the remaining ODIs.
  • Someone else England have been missing is Jenny Gunn. Just when her critics write her off… back she bounces, showing you exactly why she’s England’s leading wicket-taker in ODIs, finishing here with 2 wickets for just 8 runs off only 5 overs.

England’s Fielding

  • England were very professional in the field – the run out of Merissa Aguilleira by Danni Wyatt was a case in point – get to the ball… get it in… and you never know! Aguilleira was thinking about a second run, assuming she had plenty of time to change her mind, but Wyatt pushed and Aguilleira found herself well out of her ground when the throw whizzed in.

The Live-Stream

  • Awesome!
  • (Enough said!)

OPINION: Has County Qualification Outlived Its Usefulness?

Guest writer Simon Pearson wades into the KSL-county cricket debate.

There has been much discussion recently about the future of the County Championship in the light of the KSL launch and its now-postponed extension into a 50 over format. Perhaps we should now be looking at how the County Championship needs to adapt in order to meet the demands of this new era in women’s cricket.

If the purpose of the County Championship is to act a training ground for the best and as a feeder to Team England (now maybe via the KSL) then, I would suggest, it is no longer fit for purpose.

The current County Championship regulations state that a player is eligible to play for a county if:

a) She was born within that County

b) She currently resides in that County and has been resident there for 6 months.

c) She is attending an educational establishment within that County.

Is a system which dictates that the level at which you play is decided by where you were born or live appropriate for the modern game and increasing professionalism? (Having said this, England players seem to be allowed to move about at will, which rather defeats the point of having qualification at all.)

Currently you could have good, but not quite good enough, players at a top County who can’t get a game; and poor players at a lower team who play every game, there being no-one else. On the other hand a really promising player at a lesser County does not get the chance to test themselves against comparable players, or get the support and assistance they need to reach their potential.

As I see it, abolishing qualification would allow players to find their own level and the best would rise to the top.

Some will say that the top sides will pinch the lower one’s best; but this already happens in the men’s game and few seem to object. There will also be movement in the opposite direction for those who can’t make it into the top teams. The effect would be to raise the overall standard which is surely desirable.

One additional effect would be that there would then be no need for a 50-over KSL. This seems to be an advantage: as many have said, it is difficult to see how there is room in the schedule for both the County Championship and an extension of KSL.

It seems to me, therefore, that there is no justification for continuing with County qualification, at least at senior level.

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Ansty Ladies CC

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month (or so!), giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

Ansty Ladies play their cricket at Ansty Cricket Club – a small village club situated on the outskirts of Haywards Heath in West Sussex. A girls section was formed by Tina Towler in 2008, before Dave Burt began the ladies section in the winter of 2011.

Dave decided to start a ladies team at Ansty in order to provide a pathway into women’s cricket, and to stop the club’s talented young ladies from moving on to “bigger and better” clubs. He still coaches the Ladies 1st XI – assisted by Shaun Janman on match days.

Ansty runs a girls section alongside the ladies section with teams at U11, U13 and U15 age groups. Ellen “Burtie” Burt and Isabella Nixon coach the U15s, with Sofie Cawley coaching the U13 and U11 sides. The club’s youngest member is Hope who is only 7 years old (the oldest member is Julia ‘the Jarvinator’ Jarvis who is rumoured to be 60+ – her real age is unknown!)

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The club facilities are good, with a second square added two years ago, meaning pitch availability is good throughout the summer. The Ladies 1st XI get pitch priority for their league matches on Sundays. The clubhouse, according to Dave, “has a lot of character”! The club has plans in place to start building work at the end of the 2017 season on a new clubhouse.

Ansty play in the Women’s Cricket Southern League (WCSL) and in the past four seasons have won their division each time. Most recently in 2016 they won the Championship and gained club promotion to the Premiership. Across the season they gained an impressive 100% record away from home, which Dave says was “built on the back of a huge Toby Carvery breakfast”!

The men’s team also gained promotion to their respective premier league and both promotions were celebrated at the the club’s presentation evening with a night out in Brighton for the senior members.

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Many of the players at the club currently play/have played age group cricket for Sussex, including Ellen Burt (Sussex Ladies, Sussex Academy, England Academy and the Southern Vipers), Abbey Freeborn (Sussex Ladies, England Women’s Development Programme), Megan Janman (Warwickshire Ladies) and Bryony Smith (Surrey Ladies, Surrey Stars, England Academy).

Ansty also provide social cricket for their members in the form of playing in the Sussex T20 Development League. Playing in this league allows the club to develop players who are new to cricket alongside those girls who are playing senior cricket for the first time. In the development team, winning is not important: the goal is to provide an environment where all calibre of players can play. Despite this ethos, the club has won this competition three of the last four seasons, with the 2016 trophy shared as rain intervened!

Many of Ansty’s ladies also play additional cricket in the men’s Saturday sides, and 2016 saw the ladies section enter a team in the annual Ansty sixes completion. Dave cites one of their proudest moments as the time in summer 2015 “where poor availability for the men’s side saw us put out 11 ladies players in the men’s 3rd XI in the Stoner mid-Sussex league. Our hosts (Streat and Westmeston) for the match received the team with a positive response and the match was played in good spirit to finally end in a draw.”

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Special shout-outs go to umpire Phil, Jane the scorer, the parents who drive the girls as far as Wokingham/Bishop Stortford on their days off, Dan “media manager” Burt and Fletch the groundsman.

Ansty have recently released a promotional video to attract players to the club which can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/anstyladiescc/videos

For more information about the club, you can contact Dave Burt – mobile: 07802 462384; email: daveburt@anstyladiescc.co.uk or check out their website, http://www.anstyladiescc.co.uk