Women's Cricket

They may be two games down but the West Indies Women are still keeping their spirits up

Despite losing the series against India, the team is hopeful of making a resurgence in the last ODI on Wednesday.

There were not too many faces gathered to wave and cheer for them as the West Indies women’s cricket team boarded the team bus to go practicing at the Mulapadu grounds in Vijayawada on Tuesday morning after breakfast. Their Indian counterparts came off better after their second consecutive win against West Indies on their home ground and they are happy to keep their noses a little up in the air, deservedly so.

It has been a poor spell so far for the visitors in Vijayawada. After two consecutive losses in the One-Day International series against Mithali Raj’s team, the girls from the Caribbean have the toughest job at hand – to keep their morals high. And the seniors in the team are not leaving any stone unturned to achieve just that. Shopping and travelling is out of the question because Indian roads are scary and the traffic just whoosh past, opines the girls and hence, the best way to unwind and cheer up is to have a good massage, taste some great Indian food, and go outdoors to practice.

On the way back to the hotel on Sunday, after Shikha Pandey and Veda Krishnamurthy signed the fate of the match by getting to the target of 154 with 72 balls in hand, the silent question hanging on every one’s faces was – why? The journey back to the hotel from the new stadium where the matches are being played is a little away from the main city. It normally takes a little over an hour, but on Sunday, it seemed far too long.

The mood prevailed till Monday morning until a long and intense team meeting ended just before lunch and the team univocally decided to put the past in its place and have faith in themselves and God. The team with its coach, manager, and physio had went ahead and asked themselves what was it that made the Twenty20 world champions fail so miserably in the 50-overs format?

“That’s a question we have been asking ourselves over and over. Our task will get easier when we have the answer to it,” chirped a smiling Merissa Aguilleira, a former captain on Monday.

Merissa Aguilleira. Image credit: Swati Sanyal Tarafdar
Merissa Aguilleira. Image credit: Swati Sanyal Tarafdar

Aguilleira and her team will need a win in this India series to secure direct entry to the 2017 Women’s World Cup. That means, their match against Mithali Raj’s team on Wednesday is going to be a crucial face-saver. In both the previous India matches the Windies slumped at the start and coach Vasbert Drakes admitted that the team could not follow the game plan while and the top-order batters were not playing to their potential. ‘“Sometimes we just have to wait for the rhythm to set in,” he said.

Taking time to acclimatise  

“There’s no special strategy or technique we are adopting. We will just try to be ourselves, play our own games, and that’ll be enough to get to the top,” said Stafanie Taylor, the World No. 1 in the International Cricket Council’s rankings, and captain of West Indies and Jamaica.

In introspection, she pointed out that it was not lack of game practice that was the reason for their losses. The same team drew a series against England before coming to India. “We will definitely love to get more game practices but it might not be the reason this time,” said Taylor. “We just came after playing England and we were in good form, and the matches there did a lot of good for us, but the Indian team is young and vibrant and they are ready to play their best games. Also it probably is taking a little more to acclimatise ourselves to the conditions here as we reached just three days before the first game.”

Stafanie Taylor. Image credit: Swati Sanyal Tarafdar
Stafanie Taylor. Image credit: Swati Sanyal Tarafdar

Deandra Dottin, the star so far on the West Indies side with her 57 in the first match, seems more forthcoming. Smiling sadly, she said, “We are not playing at our best and when we do that there’s no stopping us.”

Aguilleira informed Scroll that the team has been mainly relaxing, thinking positive, bonding, getting massages and tending to themselves to get ready to take on India on Wednesday. Taylor chipped in, “You know we believe that 75% of the game is played in the head and so we are preparing our minds first to come back heavily in the last ODI.”

Senior players need to step up  

“The pitch is fantastic. The balls are coming to the bat nicely, and the Indian side is able to take the advantage of it. We have played in worse pitch conditions in India before and we certainly don’t blame it on the pitch now,” said Aguilleira.

Coach Drakes admits that some of the senior players are not playing up to their full potential and have to give in a stronger contribution. When asked if his crumbling batting line-up would be cause of concern for the World Cup scheduled to be held in June 2017, he said the team will certainly be going into introspection mode after this series and will work on it for the remaining seven months before the world championship.

Signing off and getting back to preparations, Taylor provided a final reminder: “Last time, we were here, we made history and we will not forget that on Wednesday.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.