CARIBBEAN TERRITORIES are banking on Cricket West Indies (CWI) to host the 2021 Women’s T20 Blaze Tournament.
The winner of this year’s regional tourney qualifies to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. The Games, set to be held from July 28 to August 8, will include women’s cricket for the first time.
The WI earned automatic qualification to the CWG as it falls within the six top-ranked International Cricket Council (ICC) women’s T20 nations.
However, CWI will have to host their own qualification event – Women’s T20 Blaze – to determine which Commonwealth Games Association will represent the region. The qualifier tournament has been tentatively scheduled to bowl off in March/April but is yet to be confirmed.
If there is no designated WI qualification tournament held due to unforeseen circumstances, in particular the covid19 pandemic, the ICC will use the winner (Barbados) of the 2019 WI Women’s T20 Blaze Tournament as a representative.
On Friday, TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis confirmed to CWI CEO Johnny Grave of the TT Commonwealth Games Association’s interest in participating in the 2022 Games.
“This is the first time in the 90-year history of the Commonwealth Games that women’s cricket will be featured. I think it’s a tremendous boost for women’s cricket in the region and around the world.
“The Birmingham 2022 Games I think it has the potential to do for T20 women’s cricket, what the Indian Premier League (IPL) has done for men’s cricket,” said Lewis.
TT Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath welcomes such an initiative which, according to him, has the potential to propel women’s cricket into new territories across the globe.
“It’s a great opportunity for women’s cricket to showcase to the world, and especially the non-cricketing Commonwealth nations, the talent of women in cricket.
“It’s an opportunity for TT women cricketers to play on the big stage just like when the Red Force participated in the Champions Trophy in India between 2009 and 2013,” said Bassarath.
National women’s team manager Marjorie Thomas expressed similar delight and remains hopeful the regional tournament can get underway amid the pandemic.
Since the Prime Minister permitted national teams to return to training, in November, the squad has been working assiduously to return to top form. The TT women’s team is coached by Kelvin Williams, with Devindra Singh as his assistant and Angel Ottley as the trainer.
“We are, firstly, hoping and praying there is a tournament. People are hyped to compete and represent their territory, especially as a first time. We’d love to participate because we’ve continued training. There is a need to have a tournament right now,” said Thomas.
The longstanding cricket administrator said that, owing to the additional incentive of competing at the Commonwealth Games for the first time, there is excitement among team members. The player have expressed gratitude for this historic opportunity and remain optimistic the qualifying competition can go on as expected.
“We have to train just in case there is a regional tournament, which we would love to happen. We emphasise that we must observe the protocols, not only when training, but at home as well,” she concluded.