Dottin warns West Indies to get their house in order
Deandra Dottin has warned West Indies to get their house in order quickly or risk things “not ending well” in an impassioned plea for players to be better respected and resourced.
Speaking in detail for the first time since her shock international retirement, Dottin told the Ladies Who Switch podcast that the board has a lot of work to do for the game to improve in the Caribbean.
“To be honest, there’s been a lot going on in the camp and so much I’ve been through, so many things that needed to be sorted out, and the players not getting the respect and basically the attention because there are things that needed to be done in order for players to actually perform to the best of their ability,” Dottin said. “If you’re uncomfortable and if you don’t have the things in place for your players to be the best that they can be and actually improve then there’s always going to be problems.”
Dottin announced her West Indies retirement via Twitter, citing issues with the team environment, a year ago while representing Barbados at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
So ended a decorated international career spanning 143 ODIs and 127 T20Is over the course of 14 years which included the 2016 T20 World Cup title and the fastest – and first – century in Women’s T20 Internationals, off 38 balls against South Africa in 2010.
Now she is among a growing number of players across both men’s and women’s cricket plying their trade solely in franchise tournaments around the world.
That includes playing for Manchester Originals in the Hundred, helping Adelaide Strikers to the WBBL title last season and Trinbago Knight Riders to the inaugural CPL trophy as well as representing Barmy Army at the FairBreak Invitational.
She also plays regional cricket in the UK for Lancashire-based Thunder, whose set-up she described as “way better than the structure that was with West Indies Cricket for years”.
“This is basically me right now, playing in franchise,” she says. “I’m still looking to achieve just what I wanted to achieve when I was playing West Indies Cricket, to be the best in the world, to be like one of those number one players to be reckoned with.
“I’m known as the power hitter, and versatile in the field – a good fielder, a bowler that can knock over a couple of people. But I just want to be, to remember the person I am. That’s Deandra Dottin, known as the world boss. Every day is learning a learning curve for me. I’m not too old to learn.”
She says she has had “no second thoughts” about retiring from international cricket, calling for better support for West Indies players and improvements in their regional structure.
“It has a lot to do with the board, how they handle stuff and how they handle players and how they actually speak to players,” Dottin said.
“Certain people take things different, so it is a lot of work that West Indies Cricket will need to be done and I think they need to do it as fast as possible because it’s not going to end well for West Indies Cricket or cricket in the Caribbean.
“They need to take a leaf out of Australia and English books, where they have players that when they see potential in them they develop them from whatever stage they are, so that when they actually get into that senior level it’s like they have played there before.
“You will see a player come into West Indies Cricket and then you actually see they disappear. It’s probably because of their fitness or whatever the case may be, but in that case, if I’m seeing you struggling with something, then I want to help, I would want to help you in order for you to get better to play West Indies Cricket. But my thing is that it’s basically like you’re getting what you want out of me and then you just throw me aside.
“I don’t think that that should be, as players, not even players that actually retire either. You should actually show the players respect because they were once West Indies players and they were once doing well for West Indies Cricket so why take them and disrespect them and just throw them aside like a wet rag?”
Since their 2016 success, West Indies Women have reached the semi-finals of their home T20 World Cup in 2018 and the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand last year but they failed to reach the knockouts of the T20 tournament in South Africa in February, winning just two group games, against Ireland and Pakistan.
Shane Deitz, the former South Australia wicketkeeper and Netherlands Women’s mentor, was recently appointed to take over as head coach this month as the team remains in a state of transition.
West Indies are no strangers to losing leading players to franchise leagues. Kieron Pollard recently reflected on his own move in that direction more than ten years ago amid similar concerns over the limitations of international cricket.
And Dottin acknowledges that while franchise cricket is now providing unprecedented opportunities for female players, primarily established ones, it puts pressure on national organisations to ensure their pathways remain attractive.
The WPL, providing the game’s biggest pay day for women by far, is a case in point.
“The WIPL is a big thing,” Dottin says. “You’ve seen the draft, how players get drafted and the kind of money they got drafted for, but even domestic players for India they actually got drafted too. So if it is that players can get themselves in that draft and hopefully get picked, then they will be like well, if I can get picked in the WPL, if I can get picked in the WBBL, if I can get picked in the Hundred, then why would I play West Indies cricket? I don’t know where West Indies stands financially but this point, financially, I put aside. The structure and the respect and the care for the players is not there.”
Dottin’s own planned stint with Gujarat Giants in the first edition of the WPL ended before it began in what she describes as a misunderstanding over her medical status.
Having sought treatment for an abdominal complaint at the end of last year, she was ordered to rest as part of her recovery and says she “did gain a couple of pounds” and found her return to match fitness challenging.
Gujarat, who had bought her at auction for INR 60 lakh (US$ 73,000 approx. at the time) replaced her with Australian allrounder Kim Garth before their first game saying she was “recovering from a medical situation”, later clarifying that they had been unable to obtain medical clearance in time for Dottin to play, which she disputed in a lengthy statement on Twitter.
Her experience echoed that of Lizelle Lee and Dane van Niekerk, who ended their international careers with South Africa over fitness concerns and now, like Dottin, are focusing on franchise leagues.
Despite that, Dottin is looking forward to returning to the WPL next year and confirmed that she would re-enter the auction. But she also backed calls for a re-think on fitness benchmarks.
“Everybody’s different so you still have to take in consideration what standard do you give someone to run a beep test or what standard to give someone to run a yo-yo test because you know their condition and you know how their body is going to react,” she says. “It just needs the to be re-looked at for some players.
“If you can work with a player and be patient enough to work with that player in order to get them where you think that they can get then I think that’s even better than just giving them, ‘yeah, you need to run 20 and if you don’t run 20 then you’re dropped’. It just needs to be reconsidered.”
Now, Dottin says she is in a “good place” and looking forward to the future.
“There’s a lot for me to gain, there’s a lot for me to offer and there’s a lot for me to experience and give of my experience,” she says. “But mentally I’m actually in a good place. Physically I’m in a better place than I was in January. I’ve been working really hard on my fitness so I can basically say that I’m getting back on track to be where I used to be in terms of fitness.
“My hope is to get in all the franchises around the world. I know I need to give myself a little break at times but right now cricket is what I love so I think it’s just a matter of me managing myself and getting in all those franchises around the world… continue to travel the world doing what I love and playing that cricket.” (ESPNcricinfo)