Merissa: Unity is our greatest strength

Mumbai, India – On the eve of a first appearance in a World Cup final, the West Indies side led by Merissa Aguilleira exuded a quiet confidence, in spite of its status as the underdogs against Australia, the five-time champion.

Aguilleira believes her team has shaped up well in the past few months and its positive results have instilled confidence ahead of the final that will be played on Sunday at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

West Indies entered the ICC Women’s World Cup on the back of a successful stint in a home series against South Africa in January 2013, where it recovered well after starting slowly.

“Heading back to the South Africa series in West Indies, we lost two matches and then went on to win the last four. We really had the intention of doing this [reaching the final] and I guess we timed it well,” said Aguilleira.

West Indies has had an up-and-down run in the tournament so far, losing to India by 105 runs in the first match, and then beating Sri Lanka by a massive 209-run margin. In its third Group Stage encounter, West Indies lost to England by six wickets, but from then on it has remained unbeaten.

“This tournament has been a roller coaster for us, full of ups and downs. But I guess that’s where the true spirit lies – where you are able to come back from a depth. I must say we stuck together as a team.  We motivated ourselves,” said Aguilleira.

West Indies will also take enormous confidence from its last Super Six clash on Wednesday (February 13), where it stunned Australia by eight runs, a result that Aguilleira feels will be an advantage for her side. “Yes, definitely we will have an advantage over them. We’ve seen them and the more we have seen them the better idea we have of how they play,” said Aguilleira. “I guess it is a good opportunity to play against them again and they are a wonderful team so we will have to bring on our A game. It will be good if we go there and accomplish something big for the people of Caribbean as well.”

Holly Ferling, the Australian pacer, has emerged as a threat in the absence of the injured Ellyse Perry. While Perry is expected to be fit for the final, Ferling will also be one West Indies will be wary of, especially after her bowling in the Super Six clash, where she scalped three crucial wickets.

“We know she [Perry] can be a really dangerous player but I believe Holly Ferling too is a Perry in disguise,” quipped Aguilleira. “After seeing her we understood her on the lines of Perry. She’s more aggressive, so I guess we have experienced her without playing Perry.”

One of the reasons West Indies’ journey to the final has surprised many is that the team rarely gets to play against the top teams – England, Australia, New Zealand and India – and develop further. Aguilleira acknowledged that concern, ruing that the only time they played these teams was during the World Cup.

“That’s one of our biggest concerns. Even the manager and I had a discussion that we really need to be playing the top teams more often,” she said. “We believe the ability we have and we know that we can compete against the biggest sides, so it is all about giving the opportunity. The Board will have to take that perspective and eventually that will happen.”

West Indies finished in fifth place in the 2009 ICC Women’s World Cup, and had to play in the qualifiers to gain entry to the 2013 edition, beating Pakistan by 130 runs in the final at Mirpur in 2011. Aguilleira felt the side had come a long way since then.

“It is the best feeling. We have nothing to lose right now. It will be good to know that we can actually get the trophy. We have been playing good cricket, believing in each other and ourselves. Once you really go there, play as a unit and show what you can do as a team it become easier. One of the earlier press conferences I had mentioned that ‘we took part earlier and now we are competing’. So here we are in the finals,” concluded Aguilleira.

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 08:24