POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa:
West Indies players Merissa Aguilleira and Stafanie Taylor are delighted to hear the news that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will offer Central Retainer Contracts to six members of the successful West Indies Women's team.
Speaking from Potchefstroom, South Africa, where they are playing in the ICC Challenge Tournament, the two leading players said the news was well received throughout the entire camp.
Taylor said: "When I first heard the WICB was offering retainers to members of our team I said to the others 'wow, this is great news for us'. I'm truly very happy not just for myself but for the other members of my team. We are all playing our hearts out for West Indies cricket and we are truly delighted that the WICB is taking notice and looking out for us. Our coach always urges us to play with heart and one day we will get the recognition. With the contracts, we can now concentrate fully on our cricket and we know we will have income to sustain ourselves."
Among leading players
The 19-year-old Taylor is one of the leading players in world cricket. She was recently among the players shortlisted for women's Cricketer of the Year at the ICC Awards in India. She is at No. 10 in the ICC batting charts. On Thursday, she became the youngest woman ever to reach 1,000 runs in ODIs, when she made 72 against Ireland. On Wednesday, she made a career-best 147 against The Netherlands - to surpass her previous best of 109 - making her the first women from the West Indies to make two centuries at international level.
The 24-year-old Aguilleira has been an inspirational leader since she took up the job two years ago. She led the side to the semi-finals in the ICC T20 World Championship earlier this year and was at the helm when they beat world No. 1 England in St Kitts last year. Under her captaincy, the Windies have also moved from No. 8 to No. 5 in the ICC One-Day International rankings.
Aguilleira said: "This news could not have come at a better time. This is a good incentive for the girls to continue the hard work we have been putting in over the last few years since we started to make strides up the international ladder. I have been speaking to the girls and they are 'over the moon' to hear we will be offered retainer contracts. We will continue to work hard to improve and get better at doing what we love."
The West Indies have so far played unbeaten in the ICC Challenge Tournament. They beat The Netherlands by 148 runs on Wednesday and defeated Ireland by 165 runs on Thursday. Today they will face Sri Lanka at North West University 1. First ball is 10 a.m. (3 a.m. Jamaica time).