Caribbean's first lady of cricket

You do not have to be a cricket fan to be proud of the fact that Merissa Ria Aguilleira, is the captain of the Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies women's cricket teams. The charming 26-year-old has risen through the cricketing ranks from 2002, becoming a member of the T&T senior team in 2005 (captain from 2007) and the West Indies team in 2008 (captain from 2009).

A right-handed middle order batter as well as a wicket-keeper, she has been rated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as one of the most inspirational captains in the world, having participated in the ODI World Cup in Australia in 2009 and leading the regional team to the semi-final at the World T20 in 2009 along with the series win against world champions England in the same year.

On many occasions she has been rated at the top of the field in batting and wicketkeeping along with many other cricketing accolades along the way. Most recently, she led the West Indies to victory in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2011, after defeating Pakistan by 130 runs.She has played cricket in most of the West Indies countries and abroad in Australia, India, England, Ireland, South Africa and Bangladesh. As captain thus far she has had the impressive winning record of 22 out of 37 games…take note West Indies men’s team!

Q: When, where and against whom did you play your first game for T&T and for the West Indies?
A: Well my first match for T&T was played in St Vincent against St Lucia, and for West Indies was against Netherlands in Ireland.

If you had to interview someone from Trinidad and Tobago who you did not know and had to ask just one question, who would it be and what would be the one question?
Hmmm, that would be the honourable Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar…what is her biggest challenge being the first female Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

What else would you be if you weren't a cricketer?
Wow, hmm… a super model and have my own beauty salon.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the Princes Town hospital and grew up in the beautiful village of Marac in Moruga.

What do people generally not know about you?
I love dancing.

Who were the people who have influenced you the most (outside of your immediate family), in your career and in life in general and how did they?
Wow, so many, my uncles, Vincent Graham, Aaron Phillip, Germaine Gray, Kenny Ragoo, Lee Polchan, Winston Trumpet, Marjorie Thomas, Ann Browne John and Ronald Gordon. They all influence me in many different ways.

Tell us about your inspiration to do the type of “work” you do. What would you say and what advice would you give to anyone contemplating a vocation such as yours?
Knowing where I came from and my struggles are my biggest inspiration. Hard work, dedication and most of all discipline.

Who was your hero or “idol” growing up (fictional, real or both) and why? And who do you admire most today?
My parents have always been and still are even to today.

At what schools/institutions did you receive your education?
Marac Baptist Primary and Moruga Secondary School.

What advice would you give to the young people of Trinidad and Tobago?
Nothing good comes easy. Always put God first. Keep working hard reach for the stars and never limit yourselves.

What daily motto/credo do you live by and in three words, your recipe for success?
Well it’s not three words but four. God Is In Control.

What is your greatest accomplishment in cricket?
When I became the West Indies captain.

When and how did you get into playing cricket?
I started in primary school while looking at the game and scoring for my uncle’s club Trench Town.

Who are your favourite athletes outside of cricket?
I admire Christiano Ronaldo a lot for his skill and charisma.

Of all your accolades, prizes and awards which do you rate as extremely special?
Strangely it was the award for Most Disciplined Player for T&T in 2005.

What goals and or ambitions do you still have?
Becoming a qualified physical trainer and having my own beauty salon.

What is your favourite pastime/hobby outside of cricket?
Spending time with my family and my loved one (blushing slightly).

Describe yourself in one word.

Final question: Who is your favourite cricketer of the past and present?
Brian Lara who was in a class all by himself and currently Kumar Sangakarra of Sri Lanka, such a humble and intelligent person. He also has the same position as I do and wears the same number.

Adapted from Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

Wed, 01/04/2012 - 12:06