Brooklyn, NY: The 16-year-old Shebani Bhaskar, who has been described as the future of women’s cricket in the United States, scored a sparkling 33 off just 17 deliveries in a limited overs match on Saturday, but the future star was overshadowed by Lorena Vitte’s unbeaten 100, believed to be the first century by a woman in the US.
Shebani arrived in New York last Friday after a 15-hour bus ride from Chicago to play for the Tri-State Lynx in a 50-over match against New York in Brooklyn, which was watched by national selector Sew Shivnarine. It was the opening round of a tri-state women’s tournament featuring teams from the neighboring Atlantic, New York and North East regions.
The teenager did not bowl her medium pacers and instead showed her extra talents as a wicketkeeper. She completed one stumping and did not allow a bye.
Despite Shebani’s impressive performance with the bat and behind the stumps, it was the 37-year-old Vitte from Hyattsville, Maryland, who took center stage with a history-making knock.
Vitte retired after reaching the century for the Tri-State Lynx, which scored 5/314 in 50 overs to defeat the New York Warriors who were dismissed for 154 in 40 overs.
It was a fine performance by Vitte, who is originally from St Lucia in the West Indies, and is in only her second season playing cricket. “I was very happy with my score and I have been told that this is the first time a woman has scored a century in the US,” she told USACA.org in an interview after the game. A right-handed bat, Vitte opened the batting and hit seven fours.
When told that a national selector was watching the game, Vitte said that she would be “very happy to play for the US” if she was chosen in the squad to play in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup qualifier in Bangladesh later this year.
“I was happy with the way I played today,” she added and said she planned to play with the Tri-State Lynx for the rest of this summer.
Vitte said she could have batted longer, but when she reached her century she decided to retire to give others a chance to bat.
National selector Shivnarine was thrilled to see the century and the excitement could be heard in his voice when he said late in Vitte’s innings: “A woman is going to score a 100!”
Shebani came to the wicket for the Tri-State Lynx in free wordpress themes the 40th over and quickly went to work scoring 33 runs off just 17 balls, which impressed Shivnarine.
In an interview with USACA.org, Shebani said: “I was quite happy with the way I played today.” She said she did not mind playing on a matting pitch and said that she had played on them before in India where she now lives and attends school.
Shebani, who was born in Chicago and moved to India with her parents seven years ago, will be based in Chicago for at least a month and plans to play in the New York and Chicago areas where she hopes to impress selectors and win selection in the US senior team for the World Cup qualifiers.
Shivnarine liked the way Vitte batted to score an unbeaten century and with Shebani’s performance.
Asked about the teenager’s innings, he said: “I saw her about a year ago in a match in San Francisco and she has improved a lot. She is a very good bat and has a good mental approach.
“She needs some coaching, but give her credit after traveling here all the way from India. She will be considered for the national team. She is very young, has a lot of potential and is the future of US cricket.”
If Shebani and Vitte were the main acts for the Tri-State Lynx then they got terrific help from supporting stars Triholder Marshall, of New York, who scored 45 and New Yorker Indomatie Goordial-John with 47, including four boundaries, to set up a total well beyond the Warriors’ reach.
While the Warriors never looked like winning the game, their right-hand bat and all-rounder Catherine Joy Jones, a New Yorker, scored an entertaining 50 with nine fours. Jones patiently waited for any loose deliveries and dispatched them to the boundary.
Shinead Emerson, a medium pace bowler with the Tri-State Lynx, was the most successful bowler taking 3/36 off 10 overs.
Linden Fraser, who has worked as a coach in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area, said it was a great day of cricket for women in the US with Vitte’s century and an eye-catching performance by Shebani.
“Shebani is not accustomed to matting wickets, but she adapted quickly. I was extremely impressed by her. I think the national selectors should persevere with her because she is our future right there.”
On Saturday night, Vitte returned to her home in Maryland and Shebani was preparing for a 15-hour bus ride back to Chicago. There was no time for celebrations.