Often, it’s not about blasting sixes. At times, it may not be about an atomic explosion of sorts with the bat, the kinds demanded by a format like T20.
We are prevailing in rather confusing times where haste often overpowers pragmatism.
In an age of T20s, ODIs are pulling up their socks and Tests are running dry particularly in the women’s game. Did it occur to you that the last Test match in the Women’s game took place over half a year ago?
In some cases, the gentleman’s sport demands to steady the ship. Everyone desires a luxury cruise-liner so to speak. But you cannot enjoy the fancy oceanic experience unless and until you’ve propelled your sailboat well.
Merissa Aguilleira doesn’t send bowlers to submission immediately. Her arrival to the crease doesn’t give an ache to number crunchers and statisticians either. Electronic scoreboards do not immediately dazzle with awe-inspiring numbers.
Not every windstorm tethers objects coming in its way. At times, things move on their own upon the arrival of a storm. On July 2, 2018- Merissa Aguilleira completed a decade of playing a profusely passionate and completely devoted brand of cricket for her West Indies.
10 years isn’t just any number.
It’s not a standalone, obscure statistic. It’s a decade in the international sport, at the very highest level. Surely, fans of jargon would happily suffice to celebrate it as having represented your nation in the topmost echelons of competitive cricket.
But look at it from Merissa Aguilleira’s earnest eyes. It’s the mathematical standpoint that attributes the power of this storm.
Not all are loud and boisterous.
Some attack rather calmly.
You know where to put Merissa Aguilleira, one of the Women’s game’s most understated and inspiring icons.
In an age where everybody wants to be a stallion and almost everyone (secretly) desires being a unicorn, few seem willing to endure the rigors of the sport; willing to carry a workhorse approach in the game.
Neither loud nor defined by silence, neither playing herself into the hands of her opponents nor outrightly dismissive of her competitors, it could be argued Merissa Aguilleira’s conduct in the game is pretty much an exhibition of a front foot defense.
A front-foot defense may not yield a run. But it can wither many a storm. It can befall the foxiness of a bowler or the guile of a pacer. It can present in the exact same instance of saving one’s wicket, a sign of grace and respect for the opponent.
If you have followed her game over a decade, you’d realize Merissa respects her opponents the same way she hails her own teammates.
Her presence may not seem immediately threatening, but it inspires confidence amongst her mates: whether a Stafanie Taylor or a Deandra Dottin.
She hung out on a pitch at Taunton- Women’s World Cup, 2017- where most others in her side were losing their heads, even as Merissa Aguilleira didn’t manage to go beyond the statistical accumulation of 3. Even then, she’d frustrated South African bowlers, playing full 6 overs, hanging in there for 38 balls, the most faced since previous batswomen, Nation.
She drew strength from her spirit of perseverance as she lent support to the fiery Deandra Dottin, who notched up the only hundred struck by a West Indian in the 2017 World Cup.
Most remembered Dottin’s 104 not out. But few regarded that stoic unbeaten 24 off 31 that soldiered Windies in the lower-middle order when Mathews, Taylor were all dismissed.
In the same tournament when West Indies reached their highest total in the cricketing equivalent of the gala Academy Awards Merissa Aguilleira engaged in a precious accumulation of boundaries, converting 1s into 2s; striking a reassuring and unbeaten 46 off 59.
Had she not played the quintessential patient, steady workhorse, her team wouldn’t have reached its highest total in a tournament regarded as the pinnacle of the women’s game.
Merissa Aguilleira’s watchful, methodical 46 that breathed an air of calm and aristocracy handed West Indies a challenging 229 on the board, something Sri Lanka weren’t able to match.
At all these times, one often forgets or perhaps fails to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the right-handed batswoman’s effort.
The famous number 6 in the team gets to walk on the 22 yards toward the lower order; by which time the fate of an inning has largely been decided. That is precisely where every single run collected by Windies’ experienced, ever-smiling batswoman turns all the more pivotal.
Does it not?
And let it not be forgotten that by keeping for a full quota of 50 overs, makes the former Windies skipper’s task with the bat no less onerous a challenge as is attempting to turn the bull by the scruff of its horns.
Imagine the patience, the mental workload, and the sheer physicality involved?
Having walked on the land of flair and ebullience, that part of the Caribbean cricketing renowned for being home to the Prince of Port of Spain; Brian Charles Lara, Marissa Aguilleira is not your usual Trini.
She’s unfettered under pressure and not the most flamboyant striker of the ball. In an era of lofty sixes and flourishing hits, Merissa Aguilleira can toy with bowlers, slow them down and often, upset their rhythm, presenting a heartening throwback to say a Shiv Chanderpaul meets Evin Lewis.
Above anything, it is her studiousness and contention for playing a focused, patient inning that holds her in good stead and in respect in the eyes of her colleagues.
As the World T20 sings the hypnotic beat from the Caribbean- a place to party like no other in the world- her team will once again rely on the handy experience of Merissa Aguilleira to provide the goods with both the bat and the gloves.
Few can do the magic possessing twin-powers and yet remain so sagely aloof from the fanfare. Having been relieved from the captaincy in 2015, but not before taking her side into the ICC Women’s World Cup finals in India in 2013 and the semis of World T20 on 3 consecutive occasions- 2010, 2012, and 2014- there’s a treasure trove of achievements in Marissa’s ebb that she never rubs on anyone’s face.
Yet, what most remember at the end of a contest-regardless of whether her team wins or loses- is that Merissa Aguilleira is grace under pressure.