Stafanie Taylor: ‘There’s Nothing Soft About England’

West Indies’ Women’s World T20-winning captain Stafanie Taylor discusses her side’s upcoming ODI series against England, the Kia Super League and women’s cricket in the Caribbean.

West Indies and England will start their five-match ODI series this Saturday, with the last three matches going towards the ICC Women’s Championship (which counts towards qualification for the 2017 World Cup). Given recent changes to the England side under Mark Robinson, and the fact that the West Indies have just won the World T20, it’s a fascinating series. We chatted with West Indies skipper – who turned out for Heather Knight’s Western Storm in this summer’s Kia Super League – Stafanie Taylor.

England have gone through a number of changes in the last 12 months. How do you assess them as a rival given the changes that they’ve made?

Although they’ve made a few changes I don’t think they have made huge changes. They’ve lost Charlotte Edwards but I don’t think that’s a huge change because those players and Charlotte were all together. We’re not looking to say they’re a new team because they’re not, they just don’t have their previous captain with them. We will definitely play them hard and I don’t think there’s anything soft about England. I think this will be a good competition because both teams are young. Heather Knight, as a captain, is young, and I’m young too. It will be a good competition and I’m up for the challenge.

You played with Heather and Anya Shrubsole for Western Storm during the Kia Super League (KSL), presumably you know each other a bit better now?

Yes, we do know each other better now. Before, they would have looked at me and thought that I’m always serious but now they understand what I’m like as a person. We got to share some jokes and a laugh. We enjoyed playing on the same team and we enjoyed each other’s company but when the games start its business time. When West Indies and England play we will definitely be serious.

You had a very successful tournament in the Kia Super League. Was it enjoyable?

It was really good. Firstly, coming off the Big Bash, I thought that the Kia Super League (KSL) was a good way to carry on expanding the women’s game, and that’s what we want as female cricketers. We have more T20 competitions and we could go all over and all around the world. It would be really nice if we could go to other countries around the world. A lot of players are looking forward to playing in the Caribbean, that’s one place everyone would love to play. I think that would be good for women’s cricket.

We’ve seen how successful the men’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is, could it be replicated for the women’s game?

Yes, the men’s CPL went really, really well and I think this year it really took off. Jamaica Tallawahs won, which was really good, as well! Its popularity is a good sign, so it would be good if we could get a replica for a women’s competition.

Were you impressed by the standard of play in the KSL?

I was really impressed. There are some renowned players taking part and when you saw the stats you could definitely see those players performing. If you get players doing that then you get people to come and watch, and that’s what you need. We know that overseas players are the ones that will help the game to take off, so we definitely want those players playing well.

How did it feel to see so many youngsters coming out to watch you all play?

I thought it was really good. For me, personally, it was special to see young girls coming out and watching. In the Caribbean we don’t get that, but in England and Australia you do see that. We definitely need to get young players coming up because the older ones will leave eventually. You need to invest. It’s good to see young girls supporting and cheering on their favourite players and getting autographs, taking selfies. That actually melted my heart, it was really good to see.

Do you think that is possible to see the same thing in the West Indies, if they have a women’s tournament like the CPL?

It’s definitely possible. We just need to take a page from England’s or Australia’s book to see how they do it and try to see if we can get younger players coming through.

You won the World T20 at the same time as the men’s side and the under 19s. A lot of people wrote all three teams off. What was it like to win the tournament in such thrilling fashion?

It was incredibly special. Before, when we just got to a semi-final or a final we were heartbroken. I remember one semi-final when we lost a to Australia (in the 2014 T20 World Cup) people messaged me saying ‘I could feel your pain’. They saw me crying on TV. When we played New Zealand in the semi-final this year we crossed that bridge. We wanted to play Australia in the final because they had beaten us so badly previously, it was good to get revenge.

In that final Hayley Matthews played an astonishing innings. I suppose that someone so young playing so well could inspire young people to start playing and watching cricket?

Yes, when I went home everyone was like, ‘Stef, who is that girl, how old is she?’ So when I told them she was just 18 they were like, ‘Seriously?’. She was smashing it all over the ground. That was really good for Hayley: that’s what you want, you want young players stepping up and she did a fantastic job. It was good to be at the non-striker’s end and watch balls going for boundaries. As a senior player I look at her, not down but at her. For her age she’s a good girl, a bright girl, so, in the future, she’s definitely one to look out for.

Looking ahead to next year’s World Cup, in the UK, how special would it be to play over here again?

It would be so good. I actually got the opportunity to play at Lord’s once before and I got a duck. That was very disappointing. I’m hoping that if I get the opportunity to play there again I will turn it around, and even make a fifty or a century. I definitely want to stamp some authority there! It would be good to be out there, playing at Lord’s. It’s historic, everyone wants to play at Lord’s – who doesn’t want to play at Lord’s?

And there could be big crowds, which must always be exciting?

Absolutely. It would be good for the women’s game to have big crowds. You know that the game is expanding if there are people coming to watch. The female game is exciting, it’s good to watch. If we win it, oh my god, the Caribbean will be upside down! For us it would be good because we won the T20 World Cup and now we want to win the 50-over World Cup to get more people to follow women’s cricket. Eventually we hope that it can be as big as the men’s game. Fingers crossed!

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