Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Knight, van Niekerk bowled over by Caribbean response

Published:Tuesday | November 20, 2018 | 10:52 PM

GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – Two visiting captains at the ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup say they have been stunned by the crowd sizes for the preliminary round matches at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium.

Over 6 000 spectators turned up for the West Indies’ opener at the Guyana National Stadium in Georgetown 11 days ago and their two next games here also attracted in excess of 6 000.

A sell-out crowd – in excess of 10 000 – witnessed West Indies’ final preliminary match on Sunday as the reigning champions stormed to a dramatic four-wicket win over England.

“I think it was a brilliant atmosphere – 10 000 people. That’s huge. The sort of crowd, the sort of noise you want to play cricket under as a professional cricketer,” England skipper Heather Knight said.

A section of the crowd at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium for West Indies’ final preliminary match against England.

“Obviously the support was there for the West Indies, and I think it’s brilliant that so many people have come out and supported, and it’s made it sort of a carnival atmosphere and a really enjoyable one.”

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk said she was also thrilled with the response to the matches, describing it as a major boost for the women’s game.

The November 9-24 tournament is the first stand-alone ICC T20 tournament, and has been a success so far.

“I think it was brilliant. And I heard the game [between Windies and England] was sold out,” said van Niekerk.

“Obviously I was in shock because I knew it was going to be a great game between two great teams. And to get in there and see the atmosphere. Ten thousand people can rock out, but 10,000 really excited fans that each and every person has rhythm, it’s quite exciting to see.

“And just the women’s game deserves a fan base like that. And I hope the whole world saw how much fun the fans had … and all credit to two very good sides that put up a very good show for them.”

The preliminaries wrapped up Sunday here and the playoff matches will now be played at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua where West Indies take on Australia and England face India in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Knight said she was hoping for a another overwhelming response to these games from the public.

“I think it’s been so busy because sort of word’s got around, and all the staff at our hotel have been asking for tickets and saying they’ve really enjoyed watching the women play,” she said.

“Hopefully it will be the same in Antigua. Hopefully the word will get around and there will be a few in hopefully for those two semis.”

The final is set for Saturday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.