BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The members of the West Indies Women team have been challenged to adopt a fearless approach when they tackle opponents in their next two assignments and beyond. That call came from captain Merissa Aguilleira, who threw out the challenge after she and team-mates held a team-building session based on the documentary Fire In Babylon.
The film featured the all-conquering West Indies team of the 1970s and 1980s – and focussed on the careers of several giants of the game, who brought glory to the West Indies and dominated opponents all over the world. Among those interviewed were Clive Lloyd, one of the game’s greatest leaders; Viv Richards, the batting master; other batting greats Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes; along with fast bowling legends Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.
Aguilleira said: “What struck me the most about the West Indies team was how fearless they were. They went onto the field with the belief that they could win, that they could beat anyone on any day no matter the conditions. That’s supreme self-belief and self-confidence. I would like to see us thinking that way... be fearless and never surrender.
“That’s something we will try to cultivate. It’s a really admirable quality in any sportsperson. We are working as a team and we have that belief in ourselves and in each other. The movie was a real eye-opener for all of us and gave some amazing insight into what it means to represent the West Indies cricket and the people.
Aguilleria added: “This was the first time we watched the movie as a group. We were able to discuss and share ideas. Watching the movie, I felt so proud to be a West Indian. It reminded me of what how much cricket means to everyone in the region. We have to aim to continue the tradition that they established. The message was that no matter what obstacles came in their way, they stuck together and conquered the cricket world.”
The captain was speaking on the final day of the West Indies women’s camp at the Sagicor High Performance Centre. The West Indies Selection Panel invited the region’s best 18 players to assemble for a month, where they worked to improve their skills and fitness levels. They also participated in several seminars on team-building, anti-corruption, nutrition and self-development.
The Windies are preparing for a seven-match series against South Africa from January 7 to 20. Matches will be played in St Kitts, Dominica and St Lucia. After that they jet off to Mumbai, India for the ICC Women’s World Cup from January 31 to April 17.
“One thing was clear from watching the movie. Fitness played a key part in the success of the West Indies team,” said Aguilleira, who celebrates her 27th birthday today. “They were super fit and that is another element of the game that we are working on getting better at. We work on our core fitness as well as our strength and conditioning. We play a lot of limited-overs cricket and that extra fitness gives you the drive to push on and take it to the next level.”
Aguilleira was first selected for the West Indies team in 2008 as the wicket-keeper and in that time she has matured to become a respected leader as well. She has won matches for West Indies with her batting and has been very reliable behind the stumps. She holds the West Indies records for the most dismissals in One-Day Internationals and Twenty/20 Internationals.
Speaking of her favourite section of Fire In Babylon, she said: “For me, one of the best parts was seeing Malcolm Marshall playing with a broken hand in a Test match. That was awesome. He came out to bat and later on bowled as well, and took wickets. That’s truly amazing and would inspire anyone.”
FULL TRAINING SQUAD:
West Indies v South Africa Schedule
Monday, Jan 7: 1st One-Day International – Warner Park (9:30am)
Wednesday, Jan 9: 2nd One-Day International – Warner Park (9:30am)
Saturday, Jan 12: 3rd One-Day International – Windsor Park (9:30am)
Sunday, Jan 13: 4th One-Day International – Windsor Park (9:30am)
Tuesday, Jan 15: 5th One-Day International – Windsor Park (9:30am)
Saturday, Jan 19: 1st T20I – Beausejour Cricket Ground (4pm)
Sunday, Jan 20: 2nd T20I – Beausejour Cricket Ground (4pm)