Express News Service
‘Success is never owned. It’s only rented and the rent is due every day.’
Nobody knows this better than West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin. The established T20 superstar holds the record for the first-ever T20I hundred a decade ago. But Dottin hadn’t particularly nailed the consistency part of her game, largely blowing hot and cold across formats. Her constant struggles with injuries didn’t help either.
The last couple of years were probably the most difficult ones of all. She came back from a long-standing shoulder injury into the 2020 T20 World Cup only to have a horror run and watch her side get knocked out in the group stages.
And then, with the pandemic, cricket was pushed to the backburner. Dottin, however, continued playing with her cousins back home just to keep in touch with the game.
A few months later, when the opportunity came knocking via the England tour, she’d grab it with both hands: 185 runs in five innings in a T20I series where her team was blanked, 5-0, showed that she was slowly getting back to her prime. The World Boss was back in form.
Although she wasn’t bowling much owing to the shoulder injuries of the past, Dottin had found her mojo with the bat. Next, came the search for consistency – a rather frustrating effort considering the lack of cricket until July 2021.
However, the return came in a different format. A format where she had batted in the middle-order for the better part of her career. And she would continue to do so against Pakistan and South Africa at home with skipper Stafanie Taylor being in and out of the side due to injury. She had a standalone fifty against South Africa, but the results still weren’t going the team’s way as they lost 1-4.
It all fell in place against her favourite opposition in Pakistan, ahead of the ICC World Cup qualifiers. Dottin was asked to open with Rashada Williams and Matthews was moved down the order to bat alongside Taylor. The all-rounder responded with a century in the first ODI, her first since 2017, which also came against the same opposition.
A fifty in the qualifiers and 150 against South Africa followed and it seemed she was peaking ahead of the World Cup. She’d found the patience and consistency that she was looking for. And it’d be impossible to say that did not have an effect on the team. They had beaten Pakistan 3-0, thumped Ireland in the qualifiers, and competed well in South Africa in the lead up to the global event.
“Over the past year, a couple of youngsters have come in and felt comfortable. We have gelled and come together more. Our togetherness is a lot better. We are a lot stronger. Once we stick together, nobody can come between us or even beat us,” she told this daily.
And it showed in the opening game of the World Cup. West Indies did not give New Zealand an inch, both with the bat and ball. But the match was still even and it needed something special to take them home.
In came Dottin, the ‘strong-minded and determined individual’ that she is, and took the ball from Taylor’s hands, said, “I’m the perfect bowler for this perfect moment,” and delivered a miracle. If Hayley Matthews set up the World Cup with the bat, then Dottin provided the perfect finishing act for that game.
And that was probably the kickoff West Indies needed early on. While Mattews continued making merry against England, Dottin, once again, stole headlines with a stunning catch at backward point as they secured a 7-run win. One would have thought that from there, their journey to the top should be easy, but it wasn’t.
They were overpowered by India and Australia; successfully averted an upset against Bangladesh, but lost to Pakistan. Dottin made her presence felt in every single game, whether it was the fifty against India or the catch of Laura Wolvaardt against South Africa. It was almost as if there was no way she could be kept out of the contest.
With the South Africa match getting washed out, West Indies were dependent on an India loss to make their way into the knockouts. Eventually, things worked out in their favour, and the celebrations in Wellington as Mignon du Preez flicked Deepti Sharma through midwicket were wild.
But, was it all surprising though? Could West Indies beating England and New Zealand be called an upset or a shocker? If you’d watched Dottin and West Indies play in the last 12 months, you wouldn’t think so.
They’ve stuck to a certain brand of cricket, which Dottin calls ‘the West Indian way’ and stuck to it irrespective of the results — attack with a bit of flair, entertainment and a tinge of madness. And it has eventually worked well for them in the long run.
“For us, we are a force to reckon with. So, I don’t think that we should change how we play. We just need to be mindful and play the West Indian way. So from 2017 to now, you’ll still see West Indies play as West Indies,” said the 30-year-old.
Dottin has flown under the radar a bit with the bat since the game against India. Their leading run-scorer from the 2017 edition has made just 165 runs in six innings so far. But with West Indies taking on Australia in the semifinal, there’s no better time for the World Boss to own the big stage, for that is essential to have a chance at getting better of Meg Lanning’s ODI juggernaut.
‘Success is never owned. It’s only rented and the rent is due every day,’ reads one of Dottin’s tattoos. It is a mantra she lives by.
And on Wednesday, as West Indies take on Australia, she’d want to pay up her dues and collect the success. There’s no doubt she knows how.