Atkins Adds Quality to USA
The Road to Bangladesh will be less rocky for the United States women’s team with the presence of all-rounder Candacy Atkins.
One of the few players with high-level exposure in the squad, Atkins brings batting, bowling and leadership qualities, so vital in the USA’s quest to qualify for it’s first-ever Cricket World Cup. She is a proven middle order batsman who is just as good facing pace and spin, and when you add her miserly medium pace bowling, her team could well have two players in one.
Atkins’ greatest strength however, is her captaincy skills as her tactical acumen and motivational powers have won her praise from Georgetown, Guyana to New York in the USA.
“She is one of those special players who do an excellent job captaining any type of team she plays on, regardless of which it is, she can get the best out of any player,” says New York coach Linden Fraser.
In leading Connecticut (North East Region) to winning the first-ever United States Regional Women’s championship in 2009, her leadership qualities were demonstrated in a new setting, years after climbing the ranks to the top of the West Indies women’s cricket scene.
Berbice is considered the hot-bed of Guyana’s cricket as it has produced some of the world’s best players in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Atkins hails from New Amsterdam in Berbice, Guyana, where she was encouraged to take up the game by a cousin, and never looked back after her first call-up to that nation’s national trials.
Her natural all-round ability notched the right-hander a place in the Guyana national starting XI in the first-ever West Indies women’s championship where she did well enough to land a place in the West Indies side which toured India and Pakistan in 2001. A few months later she helped the West Indies qualify for the Women’s World Cup with a second-place finish in the qualifying competition in the Netherlands.
Coincidentally, Atkins’ teammate in the United States team, Indomatie Goordial-John was also a part of that West Indies side, and both later made the cut for the World Cup in South Africa the following year.
When Candacy migrated to the United States, she thought her cricketing days were over, but at around the same time, the United States women’s cricket team was taking shape, and given her previous accomplishments, Atkins was immediately contacted and didn’t think twice when asked to be a part of the USA side which competed in the first ever ICC-Americas Women’s competition staged in Florida in 2009.
Atkins was named vice-captain but given the lack of preparation of a team, made up mostly of players not quite in their youthful prime, the USA finished among the also-rans.
A few years later though, Atkins and her teammates, thanks to intensive preparation by Coach Linden Fraser of more than half the squad, trounced Canada 3-0 to land on the Road to Bangladesh. Atkins’ solid middle-order batting and experience in the field helped the USA upset Canada in the Canadians own backyard, despite her not being named captain of the USA team.
Candacy who is employed as a cashier in Connecticut, would gladly trade it for a full-time career in cricket. However, her biggest goal for the moment is to help the USA qualify for the Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2012, and she warns that extensive support is required from the national association.
“We need a long training camp and lots of practice matches, like all the other national teams expected to compete in Bangladesh in November 2011 are doing right now,” stated the outspoken all-rounder, adding “Everyone saw what happened with the men’s team that went into a competition not fully prepared.” She was recalling the USA senior men’s disappointing showing in the 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division 3 series in Hong Kong.
Former West Indies fast bowler Pedro Collins is Candacy’s favorite player, because of his reputation for rebounding from adversity. However, she does not need adversity in her career to give 110 percent every time her team takes to the field. Winning for America is motivation enough, and Bangladesh could well be the venue of Candacy’s biggest accomplishment yet.