Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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"A player like Deandra Dottin, when she says give me the ball, you just give her the ball."
Even if you had already decided someone else should bowl. Even if Dottin has only bowled 11 overs in international cricket in the last three years, and none in training recently. Even if you've never won a match in New Zealand before, there's only five runs to defend, and your World Cup opener is on the line. In fact, especially if that's the case.
"Shakera Selman was meant to bowl and Deandra pretty much just come up to the stumps and said to Stef [Stafanie Taylor], 'Give me the ball.' And we were like, 'What? You haven't bowled in international cricket in like a year now,'" Hayley Matthews, whose century helped West Indies ask New Zealand to chase a record target in the tournament's first match, said. "She literally hasn't bowled to anyone in the nets since we've been here and she just came and said, 'Give me the ball.' A player like Deandra Dottin, when she says give me the ball, you just give her the ball. It doesn't matter if she has bowled in a year or if she hasn't."
Taylor thought about hesitating for a fraction of a second but Dottin was insistent and Taylor figured she could deal with the consequences later. "She [Dottin] was like, 'Skip, I want the ball, give me the ball,' and I said, 'Ok, you and the coach will discuss after, that has nothing to do with me. I will give you the ball, do your thing,'" Taylor told the television broadcasters afterwards.
Dottin's thing was to concede a single off the first ball and then send down a dipping yorker that smashed into Katey Martin's pad in front of leg stump. Martin was given out and reviewed but ball-tracking showed the delivery was going on to hit leg stump, and Martin had to go. Dottin tried to replicate that ball immediately but sent down a low full toss instead and Hannah Rowe took a single to long-on. She kept going for the block hole and Jess Kerr tried to clear mid-off but offered a simple chance to Chinelle Henry. With four to get off the last two balls, Dottin bowled length and missed everything. Fran Jonas tried to steal a bye but Rowe was slow to respond and by the time Jonas turned around, Shemaine Campbelle had collected and thrown to Dottin, who ran Jonas out at the non-striker's end.
West Indies had won, and there was nothing for Dottin to discuss with the coach, except maybe how she held her nerve. "I feel like she went into that over knowing she was going to get the job done," Matthews said. "For her, it was like, 'If we lose I am going to take the blame.' Simple as that. Obviously we love that attitude. We love players that will come to the captain and say: 'I want to do that.'"
And if they win? Of course Dottin was happy to share the glory, knowing that it may be up to someone else in another match. "That's what's really good about our team. We've got so much experience and so many players we can call on. We know once we call on them, they are going to get the job done and she was the epitome of that today," Matthews said.
Dottin's last-over heroics are even more remarkable because of the time she has spent away from bowling after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in 2019. She has only bowled 11 overs of international cricket since then, last in September 2021. Even then, she showed her mettle and kept South Africa to six runs in the Super Over, which West Indies chased easily. Taylor said Dottin is "not ready to bowl yet" but "took the responsibility of bowling the last over" anyway.
It means West Indies have caused the tournament's first upset. "We came into this tournament a bit as underdogs," Matthews said. "It's helped to ease a bit of pressure. To make a statement like this in the first game is massive."