More developmental structure is needed to attract young female cricketers to the sport, says Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Shakera Selman.
Selman who began her cricketing journey in 2005 and was part of the West Indies women’s T20 World Cup champion squad that defeated Australia in 2016, said she was scared of what will happen when players like herself move on from the game.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Selman who has played 154 One-Day and Twenty20 Internationals combined for West Indies Women, called on the Barbados Cricket Association to find ways that would make young females interested in the game.
“I am actually scared of what will happen when this group of players we have are finished. Majority of us that are playing are around the same age. So, I’m actually scared that we wouldn’t have sufficient girls left to carry on the sport.
“The onus is on the BCA (Barbados Cricket Association) obviously and Cricket West Indies to find ways to develop the sport and encourage the younger girls to play. I find more girls are gravitating towards football and other sports. So, we have to find a way to get the girls interested and to keep that interest in the sport,” she explained.
Selman offered suggestions on what the local governing bodies could do to generate interest among females. She said: “As it relates to Barbados if we can get girls cricket into clubs that would help, especially at the junior level. One of the biggest things I have been agitating for is the return of softball cricket. I see it working in Trinidad, they have a very strong softball competition and many of the girls start by playing softball and then they become interested in playing hardball. I think that is the way we have to go in Barbados.
“If we can get some kiddies cricket and some more development structures, you could get a West Indies Under-19 team (women’s) maybe that would encourage the young girls to play. A lot of the girls are just thinking that we have to wait so long before we could make a West Indies team. Not everyone is going to be a Hayley Matthews or a Qiana Joseph who would have started at 16 years old for West Indies. So, if we can get a junior team going maybe that would encourage the young girls to play.
“Maybe a couple of scholarships would help. They have football scholarships, athletic scholarships. So, while people may argue that you can make more money from playing cricket, what happens if you don’t make a West Indies team? So until you make a West Indies team at least there is a football scholarship and parents would encourage their children to play football which is understandable.”
Selman is the vice-captain of the successful Barbados women’s team that has dominated regional cricket over the last two years with three championship trophies to their names.
She credited talent as the reason for Barbados’ success over the last two years at the regional level. In addition, Barbados has produced six to seven female cricketers that are part of the West Indies setup.
Selman was expected to feature in two major tournaments, the regional women’s championship and the West Indies series against South Africa which were scheduled for May and June. But because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the South Africa series has been cancelled indefinitely.
The talented pacer said it was difficult adjusting at first to the national lockdown because of the Coronavirus but she eventually adapted.
“It was pretty difficult at first. Obviously, adjusting to the different training methods with the lockdown, no access to the training ground or anything, I had to rely on whatever workouts we were given by Cricket West Indies. So you have to rely on your own motivation to do workouts at home which is a lot different from what we are accustomed to.
“A small group of us have been meeting to get in some skills work. We have been doing our own fitness at home, but we have been getting together to train at least three days a week as a group. The idea is to stay on top of our game just in case some miracle happens and we can play again,” Selman explained.
She also indicated that she was ready to take the field and represent both the West Indies and Barbados once safety measures were put in place. “I think I am ready but obviously I think they will have to be some adjustments. We are accustomed to shaking hands with the opponents, signing autographs, taking pictures with fans, these are all adjustments to be made. And then there is the new rule where you can’t use saliva to shine the ball anymore. So it is just for us to remember those things and be cognizant of what is going on in the world right now. But I am ready to play again.”
One of the most experienced players and among the leading fast bowlers for the West Indies, Selman who will be 31 in September strongly believes she has another two to three years left in the sport.
She noted that her biggest issue would be to ensure she remained fit and injury-free. However, her desire is to help West Indies win another World Cup having done so in 2016 when they were crowned T20 champs with captain Stafanie Taylor.
“I think I’m pretty much at the peak of my career, I have been bowling well over the last two years. I have had a fairly decent return over those last two years and as long as I can manage my injury well, maybe at least the next two years, play two more world cups and help the team win another one before I call it quits,” she said.
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