Tony Becca | Finally, a woman close to the top
For some time now, cricket has been a man's game, and it has been so since at least the start of the Test game 140 years ago.
Although women have been involved as supporters of the game for such a long time, their involvement was confined to 'bowling', under-arm style, to their younger brothers in the backyard or as members of the tea brigade,
When it came to women's participation and administration, however, the game was considered foreign to their nature and, therefore, out of bounds to them.
Gradually, however, women around the world, in places like England and Australia, but excepting one like Pakistan, began to play the game, and like most things, it spread like wild fire until it got to other places such as India and South Africa.
In Jamaica and the West Indies, however, it took its own sweet time, and it was not until around the 1970s that women took to the field.
Before then, Ms Vera Wright became a member and committee member of Lucas Cricket Club, Lucas became popular for their tea-time refreshments, and Ms Wright became known as 'Auntie V' to Lucas members and their friends.
She set the pace for others to follow, and those who followed included Margaret Cooke - honorary secretary at Lucas, Dorothy Hobson - committee member and now manager at Melbourne, Monica Hosue (Williams) - committee member at Melbourne, Carol Bryan - honorary secretary at Melbourne, Caroline Kelly - committee member at Melbourne, and Pat Gillings - committee member at Melbourne.
Others who followed included Novelette Rickets - committee member of Manchester Cricket Association and the first woman member of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Pauline Anderson-White - honorary secretary of the Trelawny Cricket Association, Rose Bryan - committee member of the St Mary Cricket Association, and Diann Campbell - committee member of Melbourne and the first woman honorary secretary of the JCA.
Also in action are women like Amanda Baker - committee member of the St Elizabeth Cricket Association, Pollyana Mitchell -honorary secretary of Lucas, and Sonji Watson - committee member of Kensington Cricket Club.
As dedicated as these women may be, however, players are the most important part in the development of the game, and the 1970s also saw the start of the drive in the real growth of women's cricket in Jamaica.
Led by Monica Taylor and Sally Kennedy, women's cricket took off almost from the word, 'go', with teams like Kensington, Lucas, Diamonds, and Waterwell, followed by Melbourne playing competitively and fairly regularly and putting out players like Rhona McLean, Kay Osbourne, and Joyce Miller, to Vivalyn Latty-Scott, Jean Cadogan, Yolande Geddes, Peggy Fairweather, Hobson, and Grace Williams-Alston, down to others like Marlene Needham, Jennifer Sterling, and Jacqueline Robinson.
Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, in fact, ventured out into international play before the West Indies.
Those, however, were lovely days, days of regular and exciting competition among Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and St Lucia, bringing together players like Louise Browne, Ann Browne, and Stacey Ann King from around the region, and those were the days when the West Indies hosted England and Australia, toured England and India, and, in the process, defeated one or two along the way.
In terms of participation and competition, women's cricket, especially in Jamaica, fell away for a while, but it has recently hinted of a comeback, and with Jamaicans like Stafanie Taylor, Shanel Daley, and Chedean Nation, and with West Indians such as Deandra Dottin, Anisa Mohammed, Marisa Aguilera, Hayley Matthews, Britney Cooper, Shermaine Campbell, and Shaquana Quintyne, the future seems bright and rosy.
On the field, there is also Jacqueline Williams, a good female umpire who had the distinction of standing in the regional men's four-day competition at Sabina Park recently and, by her presence, her deportment, and her skill, she has set a pace for others of her gender to follow.
West Indies women are the T20 champions of the world, and once they step up the participation and the competition all around the region, especially after such a promising history, nothing, it seems, can stop them in the future, and particularly now that West Indies Cricket has appointed a woman as its chief operating officer.
Verlyn Faustin, the company's secretary, is now also the chief operating officer (COO) responsible for the day-to-day operations, and mainly for control, administrative, and reporting procedures aimed at effective management on and off the field.
All who love West Indies cricket applaud Faustin's elevation and wish her well in this her added responsibility, especially as from all reports, she is more than capable.
Her rise to close to the top is a good move for cricket and for women's cricket in particular. It has given them a voice at the top where it matters most, and on top of that, she has joined other women around the world of cricket, including Ingrid Cronin-Knight and Liz Dawson, who are members of the nine-member New Zealand Cricket board, and Debbie Hockley, who is president of the board and one who call the shots for all New Zealand's cricket.
With Jimmy Adams as the new director of cricket, with Jason Holder as the captain of the men's team, with Taylor as the captain of the women's team, and with Faustin as the COO, West Indies cricket, men and women, is in good hands, or so it seems.