TEENAGER Zaida James has been having an incredible 2023, and more is yet to come.
James, 18, will be making her debut for Trinbago Knight Riders in the 2023 edition of the Women's Caribbean Premier League (WCPL). The St Lucian allrounder started the year with consecutive half-centuries for West Indies in the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women's World Cup in South Africa.
James cracked 52 off 57 balls in the opening game vs Ireland on January 15 and followed that with a whirlwind 55 from 37 balls against Indonesia – both wins for the regional team.
Her performances caught the eyes of West Indies selectors and she earned her a dream call-up to the senior team. She made her senior T20 debut against India on January 30, 2023 in a tri-series involving South Africa. Her debut ended in defeat but James was unbeaten on 21 not out with two sixes.
She also earned selection to the regional One-Day International team and made her debut vs Ireland on June 26 at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in her homeland St Lucia.
The diminutive player who five years ago was cheering the West Indies women in the stands is now competing with and against some of her idols in the WCPL. She will face Barbados Royals skipper and global star Hayley Matthews in the WCPL. At age 13, James was starstruck as she got to meet Matthews after a West Indies game in St Lucia. Idols have become rivals.
James previously told CWI media, "I have no idea how to explain it. We in the crowd watching women's cricket, I said, 'This is my dream, to play for West Indies."
James was an all-round athlete as a child playing football, cricket and tennis.
She said her dad encouraged her to do her best in whatever she does – a mantra she sticks to today.
"I just took a bat, start hitting balls in the house – breaking glasses, breaking windows," she said.
After competing for the Guyana Amazon Warriors last year, look out for James to continue breaking the ceiling as she continues to show she is ready for the big stage.