Felicia Walters has major aspirations as a cricketer and judging by her recent form for club and country, so far this season, the year 2017 is her time to shine. Most recently, on May 2, Walters became the first woman to score a half-century at the newly opened Brian Lara Cricket Academy, anchoring a South/Central selection to a win over a North/East team in an exhibition T20 match.
The game was played in celebration of T&T’s successful title defense in the WICB’s Women’s Regional Super50 tournament. Walters had a celebration of her own.
Last year, the 25-year-old missed out when the Red Force Divas were crowned regional 50-over and T20 queens of the Caribbean in Guyana.
“I was on the squad but I didn’t play because I was injured and had to do therapy. My mindset this year was to do my best to defend the regional title because I felt really depressed last year,” she said.
Her return to the team she first represented in 2010 would coincide with her desire to cement her status as the next talent out of regional women’s cricket. Her ambitions were realised with a pivotal performance in St Vincent, helping T&T secure a place in the title match. Leaving her best for the championship match against Barbados, Walters constructed a knock of 53 to anchor the Red Force Divas to 164 all out. Then, with her penetrative off-spin, she helped bowl out the Bajans 21 runs short of T&T’s mark.
“All I was telling myself was that I have to be focused. It was a patient knock because it was a slow, turning wicket so I had to have good technique. I also picked up three crucial wickets. It was a great experience!” she said.
A right-handed opening batswoman, Walters can adapt easily to the aggression of T20 cricket or the measured temperament needed for one-dayers.
On Monday, the resident of Arena Road, Freeport, earned selection to the West Indies senior women’s cricket team for the ICC World Cup 2017 in England and Wales.
It is the realisation of a childhood dream and one that the diminutive player has worked hard towards since she first started playing the sport as an 11-year-old in the yard of her primary school.
“I started playing windball cricket at Freeport Presbyterian. Then I was introduced to hardball cricket with coach Trumpet. He had a major part to play in where I am right now,” she said.
John Trumpet, head coach of the Preysal Phoenix Women’s cricket team, remains a major influence on her up to today. He has coached her for more than 11 years, and she was under his watch when Guardian Media Sports visited Tuesday’s training session at the Couva East Secondary School where the club is based as she continues to work on improving her skills.
Coach Trumpet contends that his student’s arrival on the international scene is overdue especially with her having made the 2006 T&T under-19 team as a 14-year-old, and winning the regional title in Jamaica. Following that success it would be four years until she represented her country again as personal reasons kept her out of contention. However, nothing could dim her passion for cricket and four years later she got another stint in national colours.
Since then, the former Couva West Secondary School student became a fixture on the team as she wore national colours at regional tournaments in 2011 in Barbados, 2012 in Jamaica, in 2015 when T&T played host to the tournament, and again this year.
She says her West Indies selection comes as a relief. “It was a bit surprising to me but I’ve been working towards this.
“Although I started training late this year, I worked hard with my coach along the way,” she said.
Walters is in great company. No fewer than three of her T&T teammates will once again don the West Indies’ maroon in England and she happens to be club teammates with two of them—former West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira and 19-year old fellow debutant Reniece Boyce.
“They have been telling me to be focused and to be humble and to play my cricket to the best of my ability. I will go and play my normal game and not be distracted,” she said.
As has been demonstrated before, a strong World Cup performance could be the catalyst for a young cricketer trying to make her way in the sport. For Walters, the tournament in England and Wales will not only signify the launch of her delayed international career but she also hopes to earn plaudits in high cricket circles.
“I want to be the fourth West Indian person to join the Big Bash (Australia’s domestic T20 tournament) with Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor because the Big Bash is the best stage for a female cricketer to show her ability and is way above our local cricket.”