Head coach Sian Kelly (top row, 3rd from L) poses with her Argentina wards. © Sian Kelly

Cricket may not be a popular sport in Argentina like rugby or football, but it is definitely an excuse to bring the community together, says Argentina captain Veronica Vasquez. “We love to watch cricket online,” Vasquez, who was a member of the first-ever Under-15 Argentina girls team that toured New Zealand in 2000, told Women’s CricZone.

“Every tournament is an excuse to get together with friends and share the matches with good food and some drinks. Obviously watching women´s cricket is the best show for us.” Granted T20I status by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2018, Argentina have made massive strides in terms of performance under English coach Sian Kelly – a fact she acknowledged in a recent interview with Women’s CricZone.

“We can realise how the game is getting really competitive worldwide. It gives us the strength to keep working to try to get someday to the best level. Thailand is a great example for us. A non-cricketing country that played the T20 World Cup in Australia. That is awesome for us because it shows us that nothing is impossible,” added Vasquez.

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Although Argentina’s professional journey started back in 2007, their best performance came in the South American Cricket Championship in Lima last year where they made their international debut. Argentina made it to the summit clash before losing on the title to traditional rivals Brazil – a result of hard work put by Kelly who had taken over the reins just a year back. Interestingly, Kelly is also the first female coach of Argentina.

“Sian is a great coach. She knows how to perform as a coach during training and competitions and to be a good friend outside the cricket activity,” added Vasquez. Asked about how strict Kelly is, the skipper replied, “She can be strict when needed and friendly too. Our team is formed by players who are between 14 and 35-years old and Sian knows how to find a way to treat us all as needed. She knows each player perfectly.”

A big fan of Ricky Ponting, Vasquez takes inspiration from the former and two-time World Cup-winning Australian captain to enhance her leadership skills. “I am a super fan of Ricky Ponting. I love how he used to lead his team, for this reason, I am a big fan of Australian teams,” she said.

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“It’s impossible for me to choose a woman idol. I like how many players perform. During all these years we were lucky to have some very close experiences with many international players who always gave us their best support.”

Commenting on the T20 World Cup in Australia, Vasquez is aware of the pace at which the game is growing and believes the only way to grow their own numbers is to play as much as possible. “Playing a final with a huge complete stadium of fans shows us that the difference between men and women’s game is disappearing,” she added.

“Nowadays a woman’s game can be as exciting as the men’s game. I hope we can follow this international phenomenon, improve our numbers and quality of local competition at home and get our regional competition going as it used to be before where we used to play against teams in (an) all Americas contest. The need for competition for our players and girls is the most important thing right now. I hope we can improve in this matter,” concluded Vasquez.