Keep working at home during Covid-19 break says Shabika Gajnabi
By Sean Devers
Born on July 14, 2000 at Chesney in Albion, Berbice to Albion Estate Factory worker Fajir Gajnabi and Zaleema, Guyana and West Indies all-rounder Shabika Gajnabi has three brothers and a sister and attended the Port Mourant Secondary School.
Her home is just in front of the Chesney ground and she soon became interested in cricket by seeing her brothers playing the game.
Because Albion did not have an active female cricket programme, Shabika joined the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club (RHTYSC), joining Shemaine Campbelle and Erva Giddings as the three females to play for the West Indies from that club. She is the seventh female from Berbice to play international cricket.
Although RHTYC has the best female cricket structure in Guyana, the overall standard of female cricket in Guyana is not too high and Shabika says she plays in the boys’ team sometimes.
A 19-year-old right handed batter and medium pace bowler, Shabika captained Berbice at the U-19 and also led Guyana at the youth level in her last two tournaments after making her U-19 debut in 2013.
Shabika’s rise to the International level is not too surprising from her early days in Chesney, which has produced Narsingh Deonarine, the best of the three Test batsmen from Albion.
Shabika whose favourite shot is the cover drive and, who loves eating Fried Rice and Bar-B-Q chicken, played her first game for her County’s senior team in 2015 before making her Guyana senior team debut the next year.
At age 18 Shabika was selected in the West Indies Women’s training squad for a camp from April 30 to May 30 in preparation for the ICC Women’s World Cup and although she was not selected she gained valuable experience from that camp.
After outstanding performances at both the junior and senior levels for Guyana, she was included in a training squad for the tour of Ireland and England last May and the teenager again missed out on selection.
Shabika was one of five Guyanese women selected for the West Indies Women’s pre-World Cup training camp in Antigua in January in preparation for 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. The others were Shemaine Campbelle, Kaysia Schultz, Cherry-Ann Fraser and Sheneta Grimmond. Campbell was the only Guyanese selected.
Hosts Australia won the tournament, beating India by 85 runs, to win their fifth title, while the West Indies managed just one win in four matches.
Shabika would have learnt a lot from rubbing shoulders with the senior players like West Indies Captain Stefani Taylor who is her favourite female cricketer.
“I just like everything she does in cricket, her captaincy, her bowling and most importantly, her batting. My dream is to one day be able to bat like her,” said Shabika, whose favourite male batsman is Rohit Sharma because of the way he bats.
Finally, last September, the RHTYSC pair of Shabika and Sheneta Grimmond made their International Debuts against Australia at the ODI and 20/20 levels.
September 5, 2019 is a day Shabika will never forget. On that day, on the 108 Square mile Island of Antigua, the teenager from the small Village of Chesney on the Corentyne ensured it got its second International cricketer when Shabika’s dream of playing for the West Indies became a reality.
She was finally in West Indies colours; making her ODI debut against Australia at Coolidge (the ground where the Stanford T20 matches were played).
Since then Shabika, who turns 20 in July, has played five ODIs and five T20s but has not managed to replicate her local performances at the International level.
Her highest score in her five ODIs is 22, while she has managed just three wickets, while in her five T20 her highest score is 11 and she has just one wicket.
“My most memorable game was the first ODI against India when I took two wickets in the same over to end with 2-25 in fours overs at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. It was very special because we won by one run.”
India were bowled out for 224 off the final ball of the 50th over replying to 225-7 made by West Indies in a sensational finish before India won the last two ODIs to take the series 2-1.
In February, Shabika warmed up for senior Inter-County with a glorious 152 to lead Rose Hall Town Metro, to victory over West Berbice in the opening round of the BCB/RHTY&SC/Nand Persaud Female 50-Over cricket tournament.
While she has been selected more as bowler and lower order batsman for the Regional side, she plundered a magnificent unbeaten 215 against the National U-19s in the 2020 Women’s Inter-County tournament which remains her highest score. This was after blasting 160 against Essequibo at Everest during last year’s tournament. Shabika is the only female in Guyana to score a double century at the inter county level.
“I have learnt a lot from being with the West Indies team and not being picked for the World Cup means I have to work a bit harder on my fitness and batting,” said Shabika.
However, she has the natural talent and the experience of playing against India and Australia, the two toughest teams in Women’s cricket. With age on her side, and with hard work, passion and commitment the sky is the limit.
Shabika, who also enjoys playing Volleyball, is among those Sports Persons affected by the suspension of all Sporting events because of the Global Pandemic COVID-19.
The Regional Women’s tourney which was scheduled for Guyana last month was one of the Tournaments that were suspended.
“I am a little disappointed since we are not getting play any cricket but the Coronavirus is bad and safety of the people comes first. During the break I will continue to practice and my advice to the other players is just to try and get in some work at home and try to stay off the streets,” Shabika conclud
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