Daley wants dance of World Cup glory

Mumbai, India – You don’t have to dwell too much into her personality to discover that Shanel Daley thrives on a no-nonsense attitude in life. She smiles but rarely. Even when she does, it seems measured, never quite wholehearted.

It’s not surprising then that the Jamaican all-rounder doesn’t go overboard in celebrating her wickets on the cricket field. In fact at times, it’s difficult to fathom her excitement, if there is any, after she’s nailed her latest victim with the ball. 

Not for Daley is the stereotypical West Indian wicket celebration, which induces the successful bowler into strutting his or her stuff. And the 24-year-old makes no bones about the limitations of her dance repertoire. 

“I am not a good dancer, so I stick to what I know, which is being aggressive and displaying my natural stern facial expression,” Daley told WICB Media

The truth is that not just Daley, few of the West Indian girls have really gotten jiggy with it on the field during the Women’s World Cup in India so far. This despite the team’s unprecedented run into the final. But Daley is quick to the note that her teammates were just itching to get the party started come Sunday.

“We have quite a few dancers in the team though and you might be surprised in the finals. You might see them pull some moves,” said Daley, who has chipped in with bat and ball at crucial junctures for her team. 

In her steadfast way, Daley has been the engine room of the West Indies’ World Cup campaign so far. Whether it is while opening the bowling with her left-arm spin or shoring up the lower order with prudent knocks, the second generation cricketer has been an influential cog in the wheel. And as always, she’s gone about her business with no fuss whatsoever. Daley though attributes West Indies’ success, especially in the Super Six stages, to a well-rounded team effort.

“To see that we have people in the team that could put up their hands and we are not depending on one or two players in the team is a huge plus for us. We had a rough start to the tournament, except the game against Sri Lanka. But we bounced back well. I am really proud of the girls and win, lose or draw, we’re all in,” she said. 

Neither her 103 runs at 25.75 nor her seven wickets at 29.80 apiece demand major attention, but Daley has put her hand up when her team has needed it the most. She saved the day against New Zealand with a patient 37 at a stage, where West Indies had slipped to 114-6. And in the do-or-die clash against Australia, it was Daley who set the ball rolling by dismissing the openers before eventually finishing with figures of 3-22. 

Daley has mastered the unique art of bowling spin with the new-ball. And she deserves full credit for the consistency with which she’s drawn first blood for the West Indies, which is vindicated by her record of 16 wickets at 25.87 apiece. An economy rate of just 3.2 while opening the bowling with her left-arm spin is nothing short of outstanding.  

“I am normally a hard bowler to get away especially with the ball skidding on and it’s new. My role in that is to stay tight and bowl as straight as possible. Opening the bowling is natural for me,” explains Daley.  

Daley, the daughter of former Jamaican all-rounder Aaron, who played in 24 first-class matches during the 1980s, believes that her team’s major strength during the World Cup has been the ability to bounce back from big defeats. 

“The practice match against Australia was a wake-up call for us. After the first couple of games here in India, the team came back well. Even though we just edged into the Super Sixes, we played some superb cricket in the Super Six stage and now we are in the final,” she adds. 

Daley also lauds the efforts of coach Sherwin Campbell in terms of buoying up the team’s spirit even in times of distress. 

“He keeps motivating us to and keeps us going whenever we’re feeling down. Example, after that India loss, he kept telling us that we could do it,” she said. 

Daley might not enjoy a profile anywhere close to the demi-God like status some of her fellow sportspersons do in Jamaica, be it cricketers or track-and-field stars. But she’s not complaining, and is happy with the outpouring of support that she has been receiving from her friends and family. 

“The family’s obviously going to be supporting. And we have gained a lot of fans in India and worldwide. We get the Facebook and the Twitter messages, encouraging us to keep going,” she says.  

The West Indies girls have also focused a lot on presenting a united front both on and off the field in India, and Daley believes that regional biases have no place in their dressing-room.

“The captain is from Trinidad and I’m from Jamaica. Two of my best friends are from Barbados and everybody is close-knit. It doesn’t matter which country we are from. Once we are together, we are together,” added Daley.

Not many would have bet on this West Indies team to make it all the way to the final at the start of the World Cup. But having now overcome an inconsistent form early on, and a number of battle-hardened opponents, Daley & Co can’t wait to leap over the final hurdle. 

“Obviously it’s any team’s dream to be in any final. It’s really an honour and a pleasure for us to make it this far. Right now, World Cup final is all I want to focus on. Words can’t even explain how much it will mean to us,” says Daley. 

The serene climes of the historic Cricket Club of India (CCI) might just be in store to witness its wildest party ever if Merissa Aguilleira’s merry posse do produce another dramatic upset on Sunday. If they do, then we can be rest assured that even the reticent Daley is sure to shake off her inherent shyness and embellish the dance floor.   

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 12:26