RJR Sports Awards Nominee | Taylor-Made for Success
Even by her own high standards RJR Sports Foundation National Sportswoman of the Year nominee, cricketer Stafanie Taylor, had a tremendous 2016.
In surely the high point of her year, and indeed her career, Taylor led the West Indies Women to a maiden victory in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 tournament defeating defending champions Australia in the April 3 final in Kolkata, India.
It was a memorable final for the 25 year-old as the West Indies Women completed the second highest run-chase in the history of the tournament.
Taylor led from the front, featuring in a 120-run partnership with teenager Hayley Matthews of Barbados, which sealed the win for the Caribbean women. Both hit half centuries. Matthews got 66 and was named player of the match. Taylor, with a patient 59, was selected player of the tournament. Her coolness under pressure ensured a smooth run-chase for the West Indies Women after the Australians had set 149 for victory.
Overall Taylor topped all batsmen in the women's section of the tournament with 246 runs and underlined her all-round quality with eight wickets. As a reward for her outstanding leadership during the tournament, Taylor was later named captain of the ICC Women's team of 2016. The team comprises players from Australia, England, India, South Africa, Ireland and West Indies.
Cleon Smith, coach of the Jamaica women's team for the past ten years, had identified Taylor as an exceptional talent from her early teens and is not surprised that she has become a world beater.
"Winning the Twenty20 World Cup while leading the West Indies team is the high point of her career but she has always been an achiever. I do not think we will ever again see a country (West Indies) winning three titles in the same year - Under-19 World Cup, Women's World T20 and men's World T20 - she has therefore become a part of history.
"When I started coaching the Jamaica team in 2006 she was already at age 14, going on to 15, the best batter on the senior team. I saw her, even at that early age as a player I could plan the team around," Smith said.
According to Smith, Taylor was now the best in the Caribbean.
"You could ask her to bat 25 or even 30 overs for the team in an ODI. That's the difference between her and the rest of the female cricketers in the region. She has the talent to carry the team single-handedly. She can mix aggression with defence and can bat through any situation," added Smith, who has been closely monitoring Taylor's progress for the past 11 years.
Dorothy Hobson, a former Jamaica and West Indies female cricketer and who now chairs the selection panel for the senior women's team, also had high praise for Taylor.
While Jamaica has developed several talented female cricketers in the past, Hobson believes she could turn out to be the best the island has produced.
"She is an outstanding and prodigious talent," Hobson said, while underlining the fact that Taylor led Jamaica to five consecutive regional titles after gaining the captaincy of the Jamaica team at age 17.
In addition to winning the World Cup Taylor led the West Indies to a 3-0 sweep of hosts India in a Twenty20 series last November with scores of 90 (equals her career-best), 47 and 44 not out.
Taylor admitted to Your Best U video series last year that she was something of a tomboy while growing up.
"I played each and every sport - netball, football." she said before she was introduced to cricket at age eight.
"I saw my trainer with a bat and I asked him which sport it was used in and he said cricket. I then asked him to let me try it and while playing around with the bat, he said I was 'a natural'. That was age eight and I have been playing cricket ever since that time."
Taylor, a native of Gordon Pen in Spanish Town, St Catherine, was drawn closer to the game when she heard that there was a team which travelled all over the world to play the game.
"I have always said I wanted to travel abroad so it made it easier to choose cricket because of the travelling which is my second passion," she said.
Now one of the world's best, Taylor, the first player in history (male or female) to simultaneously hold the number one One-Day International ranking in both batting and bowling (2013), admits that women have to work 'triple hard' to achieve success in cricket.
"People do not watch women's cricket so we have to market ourselves, the men do not have to do that," she told Your Best U.
Taylor has her own formula for success. "If you put your mind and heart to it you can succeed. I love to win and do not like to lose. Whenever I lose I cry," she said.