It was an indescribable feeling for Deandra Dottin when the West Indies Women Team won the T20 World Cup earlier this month.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. Words can’t really describe it,” the cricketer said.
As she looked back over 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.” Her sister Renee never played, however.
She actually wanted to be a track and field athlete but is was around age 13 or 14 when 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 remembered, and that was not only to her but to Lavine, coach Richard Clarke and manager Alfred Campbell as well.
Already involved in sports, Dottin was representing the island at the CARIFTA games in the shot putt, javelin and discus and went on to win gold in each of those events during her final year at 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.
That netball practice turned out to be cricket practice and it was at that same first practice session that she was selected. At just fifteen years old, Dottin was representing Barbados and by the following year, was selected to play for the West Indies.
Born in Haynesville, St. James, her family moved to Black Bess, St. Peter while she was a very young child, 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).
Now 24 years old, Dottin has already 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 the sport.
“It is a good experience, but you see this flying thing? I can’t take sitting on an aeroplane so long,” the allrounder said.
One of the most impactful things she has seen in her travels was observing 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 remarked.
As expected, Dottin was familiar with the entire male West Indies cricket team but one of her greatest wishes “is to meet Sir Viv (Richards), he is one of my idols.”
Going on Safari tours in South Africa and seeing exotic animals, as well as visiting Nelson Mandela’s cell, which she described as “very touching,” also rate highly among her experiences as a touring cricketer.
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 feel we getting all of this big money and the payment is equal to the men. That is not so,” Dottin stated as she explained that while her male counterparts were paid US $1.5 million in prize money, the women’s purse was US $100 000 to be divided among 15 players, which was something that the West Indies Cricket Board could change.
“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,” Dottin contended.
She added that even though there are many Barbadians “who love women’s cricket and come out to support it,” there are 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,” she pointed out.
Dottin also explained that the BCA never used to pay women when they 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 international cricketer to amass a century in T20I cricket, will soon be off to the Kia Super League Tournament in England for one week; a tournament she is looking forward to playing in after Josina Luke submitted some names and she was drafted.
Dottin also thanked Owen McCall, an Australian, who sponsors her cricket gear.
She was also especially touched by the recently-held motorcade to honour the women on their return, as well as the efforts made by corporate Barbados in their presentations to team members at Q in the Community.
Going forward, she is hoping for changes in women’s cricket which will include “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.