Basseterre, St. Kitts (July 4, 2016) — The West Indies are the world champions in women cricket, but not a single of the players is from the Leeward Islands. Thanks to the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, this anomaly is about to come to an end.
A fourteen-member Leeward Islands Women Cricket team left Monday (July 4) morning from the RLB International Airport in Basseterre travelling to Guyana where it will take part, for the very first time, in the West Indies Women Cricket Championship.
It all started when the Leeward Islands Cricket Board organised the inaugural Leeward Islands Women Cricket Championship, which was held in St. Kitts in the month of June with 125 girls taking part. The tournament was played in the T20 and the 50 over formats and taking part were three countries, Nevis, St. Kitts and Antigua and Barbuda.
In May Mr Junie Mitcham, Leeward Islands Territorial Development Officer, wrote to the General Manager of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr Lenworth Harris, seeking financial assistance to help host the tournament stating that unlike other larger domestic cricket boards throughout the West Indies, the LICB incurs significant accommodation and airfare costs just to host domestic tournaments.
“This Women’s tournament will help to raise the awareness of the importance of Women’s Cricket in the Leeward Islands, as well as opportunities available to make cricket a full time job via the WICB retainer contract for women and also to represent the Leeward Islands and West Indies Women’s teams,” said Mr Mitcham.
The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, which has over the years been promoting cricket at various levels, responded positively as this was the first time it had been requested to help in the advancement of women cricket in the region. A cheque of $10,000 was presented on Friday July 1 to Mr Vernon Springer, Chief Cricket Operations Officer, by Ms Vernitha Maynard, Development Bank’s Support Officer for Marketing.
“Let me thank the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis for coming on board at this critical juncture and historic moment in terms of the Leeward Islands Cricket Board itself hosting the first ever Leeward Islands Women Cricket Championship,” said Mr Springer.
“We want to thank the Development Bank because we talked to a number of the private sector companies in St. Kitts and Nevis who came in a small way, but Development Bank really came out in trumps and so what we are going to do is use the Development Bank logo on the Leeward Islands Women Cricket team which will be participating in the West Indies Women Championship which will be in Guyana in July.”
From the tournament held in St. Kitts, a fourteen-member Leeward Island Women Cricket team was been selected. The final game between Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda that was to be played in St. Paul’s, St. Kitts, on Friday July 1 was washed out. With each country playing against each other, Antigua won both the T20 and the 50 over formats of the game.
The historic team, which left from the RLB International Airport Monday (July 4) morning for Guyana, is captained by Shawnisha Hector of Antigua and has Nevis’ Senaldo Willett as the vice-captain, and is coached by Percy Daniel of St. Kitts. Antigua and Barbuda has contributed seven players on the team, while Nevis has five and St. Kitts has two.
The players are Terez Parker, Grace Persaud, Eldora Sylvester, Sherma Jackson, Amanda Edwards, and Jenisen Richards from Antigua; Kerisha Powell, Rozel Liburd, Melicia Clarke, and Kimberly Dookhan from Nevis; Elisa Claxton, and Jasmine Clarke from St. Kitts.
“This is the first time the Leeward Islands is participating in the West Indies Women Cricket Championship,” said Coach Percy Daniel moments before they boarded their flight. “We are not prepared as well as we would like bearing in mind that this is their first opportunity to participate in that competition. I think the information came to the various territories, in my opinion, a little late and so it was a situation we had to buy time and get in as much training as possible in terms of the preparation of the girls.
“The transition from softball, which most of the girls were playing, to the conventional hardball is an experience for many and this is the first time they are trying that aspect of cricket and so we are optimistic. It is a learning experience for many and we are hoping that it would be the beginning of better things to come in the future.”
Highly optimistic was the Vice-Captain Senaldo Willett who said: “It is the first time we are playing together and we seem to mesh well together as a team. I already feel the spirit and we are not on the field as yet, so imagine on the field: It should be a 100 per cent more.”
In congratulating the Leeward Islands Cricket Board for taking such a bold step, Development Bank’s Ms Vernitha Maynard, Support Officer for Marketing, said that women in the small Leeward Islands could be as good as any and she looked forward to seeing some of them included in the West Indies Women Cricket team in the future.
“This is indeed a historic moment for us in the Leeward Islands,” said Ms Maynard. “In 1970 Nevis produced the first Leeward Islander, Mr Elquemedo Willett, to play on the Senior West Indies Cricket team. As the Leeward Islands send the first women cricket team, it does not escape the fact that its vice-captain is Senaldo Willett, the daughter of the great Elquemedo Willett.
“The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis has in the past sponsored cricket at various levels, and when we were approached to sponsor women cricket we had to go the Leeward Islands Cricket Board way and so we are proud to be sponsors of the first Leeward Islands Women Cricket team: We wish them success.”