Deandra Dottin: The batter you know; the character you don’t

Deandra Dottin © Getty Images

“It was kind of tricky in terms of who to bowl for the last over, and Deandra (Dottin) said she wanted the last over and she did it. (Shakera) Selman was supposed to bowl the last, and Deandra said ‘give me the ball’. I said, ‘you and the coach can discuss later what happens, I’ll give you the ball.”

Those were the words of a relieved Stafanie Taylor after West Indies pulled off a heist against New Zealand thanks to an arresting last-over display from allrounder Deandra Dottin in the opening fixture of the 50-over World Cup earlier this year.

With just six required in the last over, White Ferns were the firm favourites to win the contest. They had a experienced campaigner in Katey Martin in the middle and three wickets in hand.

At stages as unnerving as these, even the mightiest are seen averting direct eye contact with their captains, let alone approaching them and asking for the ball. The fear of failure becomes too intense from a bowler’s perspective, so much so that it often leads to her undoing.

But the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui that evening witnessed an oddity of sorts when Dottin, unfazed by the magnitude of the hour, walked up to her skipper Taylor and asked for the last over.

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Dottin’s teammate and the newly appointed skipper of the West Indies, Hayley Matthews, illustrated the chain of events that happened ahead of the last over and described what possibly was Dottin’s thought process in the post-match press conference.

“That’s actually quite funny – Shakera Selman I believe was meant to bowl and Deandra pretty much just came up to Staf (Stafanie Taylor) and said to Staf – ‘Give me the ball’. We were like – ‘why? you haven’t bowled international cricket in about a year now. Literally haven’t bowled to anyone in the nets since we’ve been here’. And yeah, she (Dottin) just came and said give me the ball. And I think – a player like Deandra – when she says to give her the ball. You just give her the ball.

Doesn’t matter if she’s bowled in a year or if she hasn’t- I think that’s what’s really good about our team. We’ve got so much experience and we’ve got so many veterans that we can really call on. And I said it in my interview before. People that we know once we call on them, they’re going to get the job done and she was the epitome of that today.”

“I feel like she went into that over knowing she was going to get the job done – and for her it was like if we lose I’m going to take the blame – it’s as simple as that – players that will come to the captain and say I wanted this or I want to do that – and yeah, I think by the end of it, everyone was just pretty happy that we got the win and she was able to exactly what we knew she could.”

The lack of not having enough overs under her belt was evident as Dottin bowled an overpitched delivery upfront and was lucky to get away with it. Jess Kerr drilled a drive between extra cover and mid-off but an acrobatic effort from Chinelle Henry reduced the shot to just a single.

Having overs in your stride is a prerequisite to delivering under pressure is what most coaches will tell you but what is not often spoken about is the tenacity of a player in the face of adversity.

A jubilant Deandra Dottin after the win against New Zealand in the opening fixture of 2022 World Cup © Getty Images

Cognizant of her mistake, Dottin made a remarkable adjustment as she fired a quick yorker to trap a set Martin in front. She bowled three more excellent deliveries and sealed what once seemed an improbable victory for the women in maroon.

While anchoring the victory against White Ferns came at the biggest stage of them all, she scripted a similar stroke of genius playing for the Brisbane Heat during WBBL02.

Tasked to intercept Adelaide Strikers in the Super Over, Dottin bowled exceptionally well and conceded merely four runs. Although she wasn’t required to create much of an impact with the bat, as Beth Mooney struck a four to seal the win, she did accompany her into the middle.

Heat’s playing XI that day had some gun bowlers in Jess Jonassen, and Delissa Kimmince among others but still it was Dottin who was handed the responsibility to deliver in the nerve-wracking moment and she did.

It’s not a coincidence that someone like Dottin is always at the forefront when the going gets tough. The self-belief she exudes is so exigent that a captain can’t look beyond it.

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ALSO READ: Dottin: Fastest T20I century, best bowling figures in T20 World Cups and more

Often the strongest of people are met with the most agonising adversities in life.

Dottin’s career met with its biggest scare with a career-threatening injury in early 2019. She injured her right shoulder and had to undergo a reconstructive surgery in June of that year.

The surgery was successful but the whole procedure of rehabilitation was so sapping that it almost pushed her to the brink of calling it quits.

“There were points when I felt like I was getting somewhere. But there were times when I took 50 steps back, and I was so close to a point when I said ‘that’s it.’ I didn’t think I would get back with the West Indies, or even getting back playing cricket at all,” said Dottin in a media interaction ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup 2020.

“I felt so restless. I’m a very active person and I couldn’t run. It was just therapy back home. It was around that time when I started to get depressed. I didn’t even think I was going to be able to use my shoulder how I used to use it. I was so close to giving up and calling it a day.”

But the fire of playing for West Indies burning inside her overpowered the agony of rehab and she was back on the field to make her presence felt for West Indies.

Although it was a shoulder reconstructive surgery and the recovery was immensely irksome, had it even been something more intense in terms of severity it wouldn’t have prevented Dottin from making a comeback for the Windies again as for her donning the West Indian jersey was never a formality.

It came with a meaning, profound enough that she imprinted it on her body.

Playing for the country on the international stage often moves players to push their abilities to the extremes. It is because the drive to bring laurels to the nation is second to none.

But players like Dottin are made of different steel as they burn the candle at both the ends despite the colour of the jersey they don on the day.

Deandra Dottin being stretchered off the field after collision with Laura Kimmince (née Harris) © Getty Images

Playing for the Heat during the 2016-17 edition, Dottin met with a horrendous incident on the field. She sustained multiple fractures to her cheekbone after a nasty collision with fellow teammate Laura Harris (née Harris)  in an attempt to prevent a boundary in the cow corner region at the Allan Border Field.

The injury was so brutal that she was stretchered off the field and had to undergo a major surgery that saw several titanium plates and screws inserted.

An injury of such scale is enough to put an athlete out of action for months but not Dottin. The accident happened on December 27 and she was back on the field with a face shield on January 20 for Heat’s game against Adelaide Strikers.

Deandra Dottin bowling after her return from injury during WBBL 2016-17 season © Getty Images

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A gun fielder since the very beginning, Dottin entered the 2022 World Cup aged 30. And as most often is the case, no matter how agile you are initially, as age starts catching up it starts to affect your reflexes.

 

But Dottin defied it too. She took an absolute screamer at point against England to dismiss Lauren Winfield-Hill. Apart from her defying gravity, what stood out about the jaw-dropping take was her grabbing it using her non-dominant hand.

She didn’t stop there and matched it with another blinder in the game against the Proteas to dismiss Laura Wolvaardt. Wolvaardt muscled a cut shot but unfortunately for her, Dottin lunged towards her left and completed the take in mid-air.

Both these catches were spectacular enough to grab hold of everyone’s attention. But one of her efforts that was also no less in terms of earnest zeal and fervour but couldn’t fetch its share of the limelight was her 62-run knock that came against India in a losing cause.

Chasing a mammoth 317 to win, it was Dottin’s 46-ball knock, including 11 boundaries that kept Stafanie Taylor’s side in the contest initially.

The knock was as breezy as it could possibly get but wasn’t without any impediment. Dottin had to seek regular medical assistance to continue her vigil. The pain and discomfort she suffered were vivid but weren’t potent enough to subdue her grit. Her innings, just like her playing career, was a testament to her steely resolve that withstood every challenge that came its way.

For Dottin, it has always been about that fire in the belly – something that has made her run through countless brick walls ever since she started playing for the Windies.

But just as every piece of motivation has an end scripted, sadly the fire that fueled The World Boss’ keen desire to achieve the unattained for the West Indies also doused. How though?

Well, the announcement of her retirement might give you a cue.