While the Windies have been feeding off the energy of the crowds at the ICC Women’s World T20 2018, the other teams are hoping the noise and colour don’t get to them.
It’s been one of the staples in Guyana and, especially, St Lucia – the large numbers in the stands, full of noise, colour and energy. They are expecting around 13,000 people in the stands for the semi-finals and the teams are all well aware of what that means.
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For the Windies, the hosts and defending champions, it means having a very enthusiastic 12th man out there, one that eggs them on and adds to the pressure on the opposition. How far it has worked, one can never tell, but the Windies have won all their four games so far, so it couldn’t have hurt.
“Well, five months ago, I'm not sure anyone or a lot of people would know about women's cricket, and to see that amount of people coming to the game is elating. For me, and I'm sure players are elated, as well, to see that amount of people to come to support women's cricket,” gushed Stafanie Taylor, the Windies captain, ahead of the semi-final against Australia.
The Windies were in Group A, while their semi-final opponents were in Group B. They have so far been spared the massive support against them, but know it will be rough come semi-final time.
“We’ve been watching the games on TV and have seen that the atmosphere has been incredible and the home crowd is really getting behind their team,” said Meg Lanning, the Australia captain.
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“We’ve spoken about the fact that it is going to be a big crowd and they are going to be supporting the West Indies, but we've also spoken about embracing that, and the fact that we do get to play on such a big stage in such a great atmosphere.
“You know, these opportunities don't come along very often, and it's going to be a really exciting game. I think two very exciting teams who hopefully can put on a really good show.”
A good show is certainly what the fans – and all other stakeholders – will be hoping for, not just when the Windies play Australia but later, when India face-off against England in the other semi-final.
England have had a taste of the madness when they played – and lost – against the Windies.
“Nothing will prepare a player for that noise that you have every day. And some people revel in it. And some people sometimes shrink,” pointed out Mark Robinson, the England coach.
“They (England) didn't shrink, didn't shy away from the ball. Dani Wyatt pulled off two absolute outstanding catches, one in front of a packed stand. So it's just cricket. Sometimes mistakes are made. Sometimes people manage to pull things off. So tomorrow will be no different: It will be about which team delivers the better skills at the better time.”
As for India, who did get a fair bit of support in Guyana, it’s a chance to enjoy the occasion.
“I think it's good now people are coming and watching women's cricket. I think it's a positive sign,” said captain Harmanpreet Kaur. “We always love to play when a lot of crowds come and watch us.
“I think that's what we're expecting from the crowd, and I think it's a good thing. And we just need to enjoy that, that people are coming and watching us.”
Of course, with women’s cricket on the rise, and the ICC doing a tremendous job of spreading awareness around the game in general and the World T20 in particular, one hopes people keep coming and filling up the stands, not just in the Caribbean, but elsewhere too.
As Taylor said, “I hope that it continues, so not just for tomorrow, but it continues for a longer time.”