We are creating history in the sport of Cricket in Jamaica this afternoon by Breaking Ground and Unveiling the Sign for the establishment of the Stafanie Taylor Oval at Eltham High School, here in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
Never before in the history of the sport of cricket in Jamaica has a ground been named for a female cricketer. In fact, you would have to search very hard in the rest of the world to find a cricket stand named after a female much more a cricket ground.
But we are doing it. Which female cricketer in the world deserves more to have a ground named for her? Stafanie Roxann Taylor has accomplished more than any other cricketer in the women’s game.
This development will serve to elevate the image of women’s cricket, not only in Jamaica but in the West Indies in general. It is demonstrating that we regard women’s cricket with the same esteem in which we hold the men’s game.
A mere eight years after her talent came to light, Stafanie walked into the West Indies Women’s team at age 17.
On her maiden tour, she struck 90 from 49 balls against Ireland. Such was the T20I debut for this native of Gordon Pen, Spanish Town, St. Catherine. Right-hand bat and right-arm off-break bowler. All-rounder.
Three years later, Stafanie was selected as the 2011 ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year – the first West Indian to receive the accolade.
She went on to also win the Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2012.
Share on WhatsappIn the 2016 in the World T/20, she was the highest run-scorer and named player of the series.
She played in her 100th Women's One Day International match, the West Indies versus India in the group stage of the 2017 Women's Cricket World Cup, on 29 June 2017.
She was promoted to Captain of the Team.
She led the West Indies Women’s Team to the T/20 World Cup Title in 2016, the first West Indies Women’s team captain and Jamaican to lead a regional women’s team to a global title in cricket.
Stafanie is the leading run-scorer for West Indies Women in both formats of the game.
A grateful nation this year bestowed on her National Honours, Member of the Order of Distinction.
From day one her first coach thought that she would be the Number One female cricketer in the world. We all know now that he was prophetic.
We expect that going forward our women cricketers will enjoy the same level of respect as men’s and any form of discrimination will be a thing of the past.
As I speak of the elimination of discriminatory actions, I must say that the Ministry has cause to be uncomfortable over the matter of the decision a couple of years ago by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, ISSA, to bar Rashada Williams of this school from following in the footsteps of her illustrious alumna. ISSA’s action was taken on the basis of gender; the reason they gave was that Rashada would be exposing herself to the risk of serious injury. How could the risk of serious injury in cricket be gender-specific.
ISSA has failed to provide the Ministry with the rules of competition which Rashada would have breached by participating in the Grace Shield Competition.
ISSA knows, like the rest of us, that the girls who have excelled at cricket in Jamaica have had to play alongside their male counterparts because of the lack of a girls’ cricket league. They have performed well notwithstanding.
Interestingly enough, Rashada at the time would have been chosen to keep wicket for Eltham if she could have got into the team were it not for the ISSA restriction.
In fact, ladies and gentlemen, Rashada despite the setback suffered at school, has played well-enough to be called up by Jamaica.
But think of it, if the same bar was put on Stafanie, what might have been the result?
So I say, every young talent at Eltham High School and indeed in any other school should have an opportunity to excel as Stafanie Taylor did.
I am using this occasion to challenge ISSA to lead the way from the schools’ level to re-introduce a women’s cricket league in Jamaica.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Stafanie Taylor Oval will motivate girls to take up the sport and give them a facility to polish their skills. We want to give every young talent at Eltham High School an opportunity to excel as you have done Stafanie. You are a role model in the community from which you came, you are a role model to the people of Spanish Town. Your place in the records of the great sport of cricket is secured.
The Stafanie Taylor Oval, will be a fine facility. It will boast three-multi-purpose courts refurbished and re-fenced. There will be major rehabilitation of the grounds and stands and change rooms will be built as well as a major drainage system put in.
It will be just rewards for the enduring cricketing prowess of Eltham High School and worthy to bear the name of its most famous alumna and Jamaica’s and the world’s best female cricketer - Stafanie Roxann Taylor.