A young Saint Lucian has been putting her talents on display in training with the West Indies women’s cricket team.
Long gone is the heyday of Saint Lucian women’s cricket, when Verena Felicien was captain of the regional team from 1997 to 2003, leading a side that included several of her compatriots.
In more recent years, the local cricket fraternity has been rebuilding the distaff game. Festivals, regional competition and grassroots development have helped regrow women’s cricket, slowly but surely.
One missing aspect is competition for schoolgirls, especially at a time when the inaugural girls’ football competition for schools is set to kick off. For years, the only option for girl cricketers in schools or even in most clubs has been to play with the boys.
Two such are Qiana Joseph and Nerissa Crafton, aged 14 and 17, respectively. They would be heartened to know that present West Indies captain, Stafanie Taylor, got her start playing on boys’ teams, as did Yasmine St Ange, now the captain of the Saint Lucia team at the age of 22.
Qiana and Nerissa, along with several young male cricketers, have been practicing with the West Indies team, encamped in Saint Lucia since last Friday. The youngsters have been gaining invaluable experience, and hopefully building their confidence.
The West Indies women are set to play four one-day international matches here in Saint Lucia. They will face off against Pakistan and could climb from their present third place in the ICC Women’s Championship to take second place and level on points for first, if they win all their matches.
On Monday, the 17-member West Indies squad played a 50-overs intra-squad match at the Beausejour Stadium, under the watchful eyes of coach Vasbert Drakes and his assistant, Ezra Moseley.
Stafanie Taylor’s team made 205/7 with a 69-ball 62 not out from Stacy-Ann King; the Trinidadian veteran hit two sixes and four fours. Fellow countrywoman Britney Cooper added 35, with five boundaries, and Barbadian wicketkeeper Kycia Knight made 34, also with five boundaries.
The team batting second eventually overhauled the target, making 206/9. But only after the young Saint Lucian left-armer, Qiana Joseph, had claimed the scalps of both openers. She ended with figures of 2-12 and a catch, building nicely on her outing in this year’s regional competition.
One of the batters Qiana dislodged was actually a fellow teenager, 17-year-old Hayley Matthews, who made 46. But an unbeaten 81 from Kycia’s twin sister, Kyshona, and 32 from allrounder Deandra Dottin, enabled the eventual victory.
Word is both Saint Lucian teens have impressed the West Indies coaches. Qiana, who attends Gros Islet Secondary, may be in for an overseas training stint in months to come. For now, she will soak up as much as she can during the near month-long visit of the West Indies team.