‘Insufficient preparation’ had been the excuse from the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) for Jamaica’s ongoing absence from the regional U19 Women’s Competition. In September of 2018, however, the JCA undertook a female program for said age group, for which, Analise Johnson was a participant. Two weeks prior to the start of the tournament in April 2019, the proud Marcus Garvey Technical High School shared the news that their very own had been selected as a member of the squad to Trinidad and Tobago for the competition.
On the 29th of July, I set off for the parish of St. Ann (Jamaica), with the intention of speaking with a 13-year-old cricketer. Instead, I came into contact with an inspiration and a mature mind: Analise Johnson -accompanied by her grandmother–oozed confidence. On a day that reminded us it was truly summer in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey Technical played host to our conversation.
How did you get into cricket?
Well, cricket wasn’t my game until one day I was in class, at primary school, and my coach, Mr. Evans came to me in the class and asked if I can play cricket. I said “No, sir”. He said, “Well, I’m going to teach you.”
Did he come to you just like that?
Her grandmother interjects proudly, “because she can bat well. She’s a good ‘batsgirl'”.
Analise: He saw me when we were at Sabina.
And what grade was this?
Grade six. (There were) four girls and six boys. We played and won and we went to Sabina Park, where I was given the ‘batsgirl’ for the island. I started camp in Discovery Bay and started training with Mr. Smith and that’s how.
Analise is the first member of her family to play cricket. And when she started to attend Marcus Garvey Technical, she picked up where she left off from primary school with the bat.
You were named in the squad in April, but the JCA started a program in September of last year, were you a part of that?
How old are you Analise? (Oh, I knew, but I had to remind myself).
Unfazed, she said “13”.
Speak to me about the chemistry between you and the older members of the team.
It wasn’t hard (being around older girls), because… All right, two of us on the team were 13 (years old), so we communicated better until we got to know the bigger ones. They treated us like siblings, made sure we were all right.
By the time you got to the tournament, you had time to gel?
Where were you when you heard you were selected for the U19s?
We were in the conference room at the JCA. They had said that they were going to select the squad to go over to Trinidad. (So) there was a meeting.
Were you confident?
Without hesitation, “Yes, miss!”
Describe the feeling you had when it was confirmed.
Miss, I felt… All right miss, for a chance like that, for a teenager to be going overseas on tour, getting experience and learning more about the game was great.
How was it for your family?
It was good. Everyone said they were proud of me. My teachers, my classmates. Most of my classmates said they wish it was them. (But) I told them they don’t have to wish. (laughs)
How do you balance playing cricket with school?
It was hard to be one week away from school, not learning and not getting notes from others because some of them would say they didn’t write the notes. And the teachers said it would be hard to catch up.
So, you manage your time well?
Then academics come naturally to you?
Yes, miss. (Even when) we got four different assignments from classes, I (just) talked to a teacher and she got the notes (for me).
What interests you outside of cricket?
Football and tracks (track and field).
What about interests outside of sports?
Yes, I’d like to become a soldier.
So you’re not ‘going pro’ (as a cricketer)?
I haven’t decided as yet.
Would the lack of coverage and support for women’s cricket in the Caribbean affect your decision?
No, it wouldn’t. I’d want to play because many girls would want to get the opportunity as a national player, but because it’s a hardball game most of them would not come.
So what would you say to those girls?
My advice is for them to go out there (and) do their best. Don’t be afraid of a ball, it’s just a ball. It might hit, hurt or break your finger; but, continue to strive for excellence.
What about training in your off-season, or at home?
Sometimes (I train) at home and with Mr. Smith at York Castle High (in the off-season).
Which cricketers do you look up to?
Stafanie Taylor, Rashida Williams, Chinelle Henry, Chris Gayle, and Andre Russell.
I would like to thank the principal of Marcus Garvey Technical, Anniona Jones, for facilitating this interview. Special thanks to Mrs. Michelle Francis-Ingram who played mediator between myself and the Johnsons, and was a fantastic host throughout the day.
To young Analise and her Grandmother—thank you! If Analise chooses cricket as a profession, you’ll see more of her and the mentality which makes her so special. Cheers!”
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