A couple of summers ago, Deandra Dottin was nowhere. Not in the team. Not in the team bus. Not in the team hotel. Neither amid mates and cousins or family, she was, as a matter of fact, lying low on the hospital bed. Deandra Dottin, the smasher of the cricket bat, the lady Chris Gayle as some call her, wasn’t on the pitch, her home away from home.
Crying tears of pain and agony, she was amid doctors whilst undergoing a painful, awful- but vital- shoulder corrective surgery.
A year back, she even went on the record to say that Alzarri Joseph, the daring Trinidadian who can be a serious all rounder in the days ahead, helped her during her lean phase with the shoulder issue.
To some, being hit by the cricket ball is agonisingly bad. Yet, here was a batter, with two T20I hundreds against her name, who was spiralling due to depression caused by her shoulder injury. Worse than being hit by the ball.
But that was then. Back in the day. In what has been an incredible comeback, gutsy, inspirational even, Deandra Dottin is back and soon as she returned on her maiden 2021 overseas assignment, so too returned the big shots and the free flowing runs.
It did seem as though the big runs would come. In the final ODI (of the five) against Pakistan, in the first half of 2021, ODI knocks like her 37 off 47 in the Caribbean appeared on a tricky slower-than-usual surface.
Then, against the Proteas women, there appeared a 73 out of nowhere. But it wasn’t the usual in-your-face with big-big-shots Deandra Dottin inning.
It came, rather surprisingly, 123 deliveries. Anyone remember Dottin defending in that 3rd ODI vs South Africa instead of going for the big heave over mid wicket?
But all of that would change come her visit to Pakistan, where unlike the scrumptious sweets offered aplenty in Karachi’s bazaars, Deandra Dottin offered something not so sweet to her Pakistani opponents.
The massive appetite for runs was back. The fielders were in the stands. The stands were fielding for the white ball. The gaps were pierced and the short balls buthered.
A career-best ODI inning of 132 appeared out of nowhere. But it was fun. So much fun for the West Indies women’s team that went on to whitewash the hosts.
Though, it wasn’t fun at all for a team comprising serious names like Nida Dar, Aliya Riaz, Diana Baig.
But for the West Indians, it meant something. The batswoman, who as of the last year, was tottering for runs, needing them urgently amid a despairing loss of form in the T20 World cup, as indicated by innings like her 9 off 8 vs England, 2 off 3 vs Thailand, and that 1 off 10 versus Pakistan.
Finally, here she was doing something she loved doing.
Making sounds from the bat, punishing the ball. It was as if Deandra Dottin was seeing in the white ball the injections and stitches, the medication and the time lost away from the field. Maybe that’s why she was hitting runs rampantly, all in a giving-it-back effort against a peculiar opponent that catches one off guard during medical urgencies.
And yet, it was emphatic. Mostly given the fact that in a year where one of West Indies’ most remarkable talents is back to wearing the national colours, there’s something else too that has happened well.
Stafanie Taylor hit two centuries this year. A 102 in the West Indies against Pakistan- and in doing so- remained unbeaten, whilst Hayley Matthews struck a 100. She too, remained unbeaten like her captain.
And then, came the sorcerer with wild magic, upstaging the host from his own soiree. Deandra Dottin’s 132 off just 146 deliveries, featuring 18 fours and 2 sixes is no less important, frankly speaking, than Kieron Pollard’s six consecutive sixes hit in 2021 versus Sri Lanka.
There was power, but importantly, intent. That’s what Caribbean cricket needs the most at this time.
That Dottin, for now, seems focused and is in the right space augurs well for a team that would like to continue its winning form in 2022.
With the added confidence of having qualified for the next, fast-approaching Women’s World cup, the Windies women would like one of their best batters of all time to stick to where she belongs.
And that’s definitely not in the hotel room, not amid her best mates, or with doctors and medical staff; but back here on the cricket pitch.
3293 runs- 131 matches- batting average reaching 30.
Made 132 vs Pak in 2021.
2681 runs- 124 matches- bat avg 26
Scored two international centuries in the format, including the fastest one in the women’s game’s history.