Author : Anand Datla
Stefanie Taylor (L) of West Indies hits out off the bowling of Anya Shrubsole during the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup Group A match between West Indies and England. (File photo)
Stefanie Taylor might only be 22, but she has already swept the Caribbean islands with a powerful tsunami that helped cricket storm right back into the wandering conscience of the ever evolving island communities. The diminutive Jamaican burst on to the scene with a forceful 49 ball 90 against Ireland in a T20 debut that reverberated with exuberance.
Only 17 then, the young lady was full of dreams. Five years later, Taylor has almost swept the stakes – leading the rankings on five of the six parameters used by the ICC to rate women cricketers. Taylor is a towering presence, holding the top rank for Best One Day International Batswoman, ODI Bowler, ODI All-rounder, T20 Batswoman and T20 All-rounder.
No woman has dominated the charts in the manner of Taylor in the nascent history of women’s cricket rankings. For all the wonderful deeds of players like Colin Edwards, Sarah Taylor and our own Mithali Raj, cricket among the better half of our social milieu is in desperate need of star power.
And in Stefanie, they finally seem to have a woman who has both the talent and the commitment needed to take it to fruition. The lady who swept away with the Cricketer of the Year award in 2011 and the ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2012 is intent on proving that she isn’t a flash in the pan.
Women’s cricket has long craved a star with the staying power needed to keep spectators enthused and engaged. In Stefanie Taylor, they seem to have finally found the answer that might bridge the yawning gap between promise and purpose.
In her five seasons as an international cricketer, Taylor has already built an impressive portfolio of work. With the women barely playing Test matches in this era, the attacking style of Taylor has served the West Indian well in the shorter formats of the game.
Dissect her numbers a little and the results are strikingly notable. Taylor has helped her team win 39 of the 67 one day international matches she played since her arrival in 2008. That translates to a rate of 58.21% successes for a nation that has long struggled to match the preparation and experience of teams such as Australia and England.
Of her 2,626 runs in the limited overs format, Taylor has scored 77.23% of the runs to assist the Windies earn victory. While her career average is 45.27, her performance in matches won by the team has come at an average of 65.41. Those numbers indicate a strong correlation between the strength of her performance and the eventual result for her team.
Taylor’s role though does not end with batting, as she reminded everyone recently with a stellar performance against New Zealand. The 22-year-old helped the Windies team gain a 2-1 series victory with an all-round performance – scoring an undefeated 135 with the bat before wreaking havoc with the ball to return figures of 4-35. She has 91 wickets to show for her bowling acumen.
In the T20 format, West Indies has won 31 of the 48 matches played with Taylor in the team. Nearly 68% of her 1,270 runs have flown from her blade in a winning cause, yet again emphasizing the fact that the West Indian team fares well almost every time that Taylor does well. Taylor has snagged 52 wickets as well, crossing the 50 wicket mark in March this year.
The fact that Taylor’s career converged with the equally youthful Deandra Dottin has turned the contemporary West Indian team into a powerful force to reckon with. Dottin achieved immense fame when she became the first woman to score a hundred in the T20 format, by doing it in brutal style. Her 38-ball effort was the fastest by man or woman, when she achieved the feat.
The men have caught up and surpassed that mark since then, but Dottin’s effort helped filled her fellow cricketers with the belief that they could be an equal force if they could put mind and body into the game.
Women’s cricket is still struggling to gain a grip in the market, but the emergence and exploits of stars such as Dottin and Taylor have helped expand the horizon beyond the traditional powers of Australia and England.
The growth of women’s cricket in other nations is essential considering that the product needs depth and breadth to make inroads into the growing market for cricket. There is no doubting the fact that the success of Stefanie Taylor and her ilk will help spread the colours of women’s cricket far and wide. The presence of a steady star at the head of the galaxy might just be the right potion to take women’s cricket to the next level.