When I started, my goal was to go past Cathryn Fitzpatrick: Anisa Mohammed

Akash Ghosh
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When I started, my goal was to go past Cathryn Fitzpatrick: Anisa Mohammed

Anisa Mohammed © Getty Images

Anisa Mohammed made her debut for West Indies way back in 2003 against Japan. Over the years, she has become one of the most important players in the set-up, not just for her skill but also her stature. She's an off-spinner with a lot of skill and precession. As she heads into the World Cup 2022, she is standing on the cusp of history. At this moment, she has 299 international wickets, with 174 of them coming in ODIs, making her the most successful spinner ever in the format. 

Women’s CricZone caught up with Anisa in a chat ahead of the mega-event as she enters the twilight of her wonderful journey with West Indies cricket. 

I have some facts here to begin with. 19th year in international cricket. Over 250 games and close to 300 wickets. Most five-wicket hauls in ODIs. How does Anisa Mohammed look back at her career so far and the legacy she will leave behind one day? 

I am really happy that I have spent the last 18 years representing the West Indies. Not a lot of people have a chance to do that. So, having played 18 years and going on to my 19th year, is a really special feeling. I have achieved more than what I set to achieve and some of the things which I have done, I never thought I would be able to do. So to go out there and achieve those things and make a name for myself is something that I am really proud of and hoping to continue for however long I decide to play. 

You are 26 wickets away from 200 ODI scalps. If you do so, you will become the first spinner to reach that milestone. Your thoughts on that and aspirations looking ahead?

When I started, my first goal was to go past Cathryn Fitzpatrick, who got 180. So that goal still remains. But to be able to be the first spinner to get to 200 wickets is going to be a really special feeling. Even if I don’t get to that landmark and I decide to retire before that, I am still the highest wicket-taking spinner in ODIs, which in itself is a special feeling. So, to be able to get to 200 will certainly be special. I am hoping that however long I play, I am able to achieve that. 

We talked about your numbers. I noticed that you average 10.96 with the ball against Pakistan in ODIs. What trick are you playing which the Pakistan team has not been able to pick up?

(Laughs) Definitely, Pakistan is one of the teams against whom I have had a lot of success. I am not playing any kind of trick to be honest, just sticking to the plans and waiting for them to make mistakes. So far it has been good and if it is working then why fix it? 

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You led the West Indies for the first time in 11 years. How was the experience of that and how would you describe your leadership role as a senior member of this side. 

One of the things which I really enjoy is the fact that most of the players have a lot of respect for me. They are always willing to learn and they are always willing to take advice. Unfortunately, the batters didn’t get a lot of runs. In an ODI game, it is difficult to defend 150 runs. Whenever we batted first, we got some low scores. To win games in ODI cricket, you have to score runs and I think that was our downfall in that series.

I have been the vice-captain for quite a number of years. I have really enjoyed being able to talk to players, passing on my experience, my knowledge and giving them advice on what they need to do. What I like is that they trust me and they always come to me for advice. Hopefully, I can continue to share my knowledge and they are able to continue to trust me. 

You didn’t have the best numbers in ODIs in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, you didn’t get to play any. But the year after, you have averaged 18 with lots of wickets. What did you do differently in 2021? 

I think in 2018 and 2019, I was trying to bowl too quickly. And that is not really my style. And, I think I was listening to too much advice from too many people and trying to do what is not me. I took 2020 to reflect on myself and what has been working for me. Then I came back to 2021 and I have been working with Corey Collymore, Ryan Austin and Courtney Walsh. And what I like about them is that they are past players and they understand that different players have different skills. They have allowed me to do what has worked for me in the past. And I am thankful that I was able to be successful and show them, ‘hey this is my style of bowling and it's working for me. And just continue to trust me and I will do the job for you.’

What's the effect on players of having someone with the stature of Courtney Walsh as coach and could you shed some light on his style of coaching and what does he bring to the table for your side? 

He is an ex-player and you know, once you have played the game, you understand what it is to be a player in the game. Unlike some people who go to coaching courses, they come and try to coach you. He understands that each player has a different style and he allows you to do what works for you. It's never like we show up in practice and he tells us that this is what he wants us to do and this is how it is done, instead it is always what works for you. We are at the international level and as I said, each player is different and he allows us to be that. He is also very easy to talk to. 

You now have a four off-spinner attack. How do you see the off-spin combination working together in New Zealand in the upcoming World Cup? 

Yes, we do have four off-spinners on our side but each one of us has a different style of off-spin. We bowl differently, some of us bowl a little quicker, some of us bowl a little slower, so we are all different types of spinners. What we have also worked on is bowling on the pitches which are not turning a lot. So, hopefully, we can execute what we have learnt in the past couple of years. 

Afy Fletcher is back in the mix after her break. She might go to the World Cup. How important would you say it is to have someone partnering up with you who can spin the ball the other way? 

I am really happy that she is back. She brings something different to our spin line-up. She has been doing really well for us for the past few years. We are really excited to have her back and we are hoping that she can continue from where she left off and we will just continue to support her all the way. 

How much of a role will spin play in New Zealand and do you feel there is something extra which needs to be done?

No, like I said, we have worked on pitches which are not turning that much. I am not going to let out our secrets (smiles). Hopefully, once we get there, we remember what that plan is and we are able to stick to our plans and execute them.