Batting for women
It was an indescribable feeling for Deandra Dottin when the West Indies Women – a team of which she is a proud member – won the T20 World Cup in April.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. Words can’t really describe it,” the cricketer said.
As she looked back at what brought her to world champion status, Dottin reminisced that she “just used to play cricket for the fun of it, either in the road or at home with my brothers Fabian and Kheri”.
She actually wanted to be a track and field athlete, but when she was around age 13 or 14, Barbados and West Indies cricketer Pamela Lavine saw her playing cricket and suggested that she attend a practice session to try out for the Barbados team.
But when Deandra sought permission from her mother, Melva, she would have none of it.
“My mother said ‘no’,” Dottin recalled, adding that the same response was given to Lavine, coach Richard Clarke and manager Alfred Campbell.
Already involved in sports, she was representing the island at the CARIFTA Games in the shot put, javelin and discus, and went on to win gold in each of those events during her final year in the championships.
Sports was so much a part of her life that there was no argument when she asked her mother to attend netball practice one evening. It was actually cricket practice, and it was there that she was selected for the Barbados team. At just 15 years old, Dottin was representing Barbados. By the following year, she was selected to play for the West Indies.
Dottin was born in Haynesville, St James, but her family moved to Black Bess, St Peter when she was very young, before moving again a few miles further to Rock Hall, St Andrew.
She attended Gordon Greenidge Primary and St. James Secondary (now Sir Frederick Smith Secondary School).
Now 24 years old, Dottin has visited several Caribbean territories, including Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Guyana and Antigua, as well as India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh, England and Australia, through her involvement in cricket.
“It is a good experience. But you see this flying thing? I can’t take sitting on an airplane so long,” the allrounder admitted.
One of the most impactful things she has seen in her travels so far has been poor people in India walking the streets and begging.
“ . . . Not being able to help them even if you wanted to because security is so tight. . . . We have 24-hour security and they say you’re not supposed to do it. But it’s mostly women with children on the streets just begging for money to get something to eat. It is heartbreaking,” she said.
Going on Safari tours in South Africa and seeing exotic animals, as well as visiting Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, which she described as “very touching”, also rate highly among her experiences as a touring cricketer.
Dottin is familiar with the male West Indies players, but one of her greatest wishes is to meet Sir Viv Richards, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
“He is one of my idols,” she said.
The senior cricketer holds very strong views about the treatment of women in the game.
“Barbados does not really give sports people – and from my point of view, women – the recognition and respect they need. We were actually world champions and a lot of people felt we were getting all of this big money and the payment is equal to the men. That is not so,” Dottin stated.
“In order for cricket to be better, you need to treat everybody as one. You can’t treat the men at a high level and the women at a much lower level.
“You only have the fame and the name,” she contended.
She added that even though there were many Barbadians “who love women’s cricket and come out to support it”, there were others “who don’t think we should be playing at all”.
“We women need to be treated way better than we are being treated; money-wise and respect. . . . Regional male cricketers make more money than West Indies women in cricket,” Dottin pointed out.
She also noted that the Barbados Cricket Association previously did not pay women who represented Barbados and only recently began “paying a little fee.”
“This sort of treatment would discourage anybody from playing cricket. Right now, as a person who plays cricket full-time and loves cricket, I am looking for something else to do. And if what I choose to do brings me more income, and makes life better for me, I will play cricket part-time. They will not get my full dedication anymore,” she stressed.
The cricketer, who is the first female cricketer to amass a century in T20 international cricket, was drafted to the Kia Super League Tournament in England.
Going forward, she is hoping for changes in women’s cricket – for “more respect from officials and some members of the public as well as equal pay”.
“Women have challenges, women have to take care of families, some (women) players are without mothers and fathers, and some play cricket to earn money to pay for their education. Women need money probably more than men,” Dottin contended.
By Sandra Downes