The T20 Tournament the WI Can No Longer Afford

The T20 Tournament the WI Can No Longer Afford

The T20 Tournament the WI Can No Longer Afford 150 150 CWESN

A couple weeks ago; Jamaica won the Cricket West Indies T20 Blaze Tournament – big congrats to them. The defending champs, T&T finished third and Barbados finished second in what can only be described as a heart breaking and most disappointing finish to a great tournament played… up to that point. 

 

A week later, Barbados continued their fine form, picked up bonus points in every match played and this time, their unbeaten run counted for something and they became the new Super50 Champions. 

 

 

If i’m being honest though, outside of Barbados’ run up until their fifth round match, I was not at all impressed with the majority of cricket played throughout the event. It was another year of sub par team and individual performances, outside of a handful of players  and not majority WI players.

West Indies teams are known to be one of the most exciting teams in T20 cricket not just because of their flair, but also because of their unpredictability. Their long term team and player form are never real indicators of their ability to show up when it really matters, and of course, T20 cricket is a funny game – anything can happen on the day.

That being said however, if I were part of the coaching staff of the West Indies Women’s cricket team, I would be just a touch bit worried following their annual T20 tournament. Of course … that could have been said at the tournament just prior to them winning the ICC Women’s T20 two years ago as well.

But contrary to the many minds blown during last years’ ICC Women’s World Cup, anyone following women’s cricket in the two years leading up to that event, would have predicted the results of the WIW, maybe not the South Africa result, but the performances were surely on the cards. And the team selection would have cemented all predictions.

A time is coming in international women’s cricket when we must, as a region, move away from hoping that we fire on the day. In fact, I believe that that time is already upon us. Our players have to begin producing consistent performances throughout the year and especially when they come down a level, like in the T20 Blaze.

Hayley Matthews top scored at the end of the competition with 167 runs from 5 matches and the leading wicket taker was a part-timer – Chedean Nation – who is selected largely as a batswoman at the international level. It should also be noted that WI skipper, Stafanie Taylor was injured in Jamaica’s fourth round encounter with T&T and thus did not bat in that innings, while she also nursed that same injury in the following match. She managed 38, but it was a patient innings lacking her usual flair, no doubt due to that injury. 

Otherwise, no other WI player dominated in a tournament that is nowhere near the international standard they are accustomed to. Such is always the case, year after year, but as mentioned before, based on the developments around the world, this may no longer be acceptable. As we saw in the WWC last year, other countries are now reaping the rewards of having invested time and resources in developing the future of their teams.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the WI women have been engaged in two, month long camps this year in preparation for the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. That’s two months, out of less than 6 that they were in camp. The second of those camps ended just under two weeks before the start of the T20 Blaze. It can therefore be assumed, that even if the other players were not adequately prepared, the WI players were. Yet, we did not really see any real positive result.

There were some exciting matches played, but looking at the overall team performances, much was also left to be desired.

Guyana lost two wickets chasing 50 runs against the weakest team in the tournament and the highest total of 143 came in Windward Islands match against Leeward Islands (the team that finished last and without a win).

The defending champions, T&T, were out of the competition half-way through, thanks to their late arrival to the format of cricket they were actually playing. On all accounts and comments, it seems they were preparing for the 50-over competition, up until the 4th round. Barbados lived up to their reputation of ‘only being good on paper’ yet another year (worrying considering their players make up nearly half the WIW team) and Jamaica, though champions, played very sloppy cricket in the end. Though, to their credit, drop catches, poor batting and misfielding or not, they held their nerve where Barbados could not, and such a thing is always most crucial in any final. It’s not just about how much runs you make or wickets you take.

It’s easy to look back on a tournament and sing praises and hand out congratulations without really analyzing the performances, but unless we eventually do that in a serious way, the West Indies Women will be in for some trouble moving forward.

It’s also easy to look at the performances from the perspective of individual teams, but let’s consider that if everyone doesn’t develop, then the entire region actually suffers. We need to remember that the regional tournament is where WI players are scouted and selected. In the larger scheme of things, countries are just clubs in a sense. This is the field where our international players come from, and it seems as though the field needs watering. And it gives one an indication of why the same players have been in constant rotation for years, despite mediocre performances.

The top three teams are the top three teams because they consist largely of the top players. Barbados has the most, with Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews, Shakera Selman, Shamilia Connell and Kycia Knight. Usually if not for an injury, Kyshona Knight is counted among them. T&T has three senior WI players in former skipper, Merissa Aguilleira, Anisa Mohammed and Britney Cooper, former WI all-rounder, Stacy-Ann King and current new comers to the team, Reniece Boyce and Felicia Walters. Jamaica has the least, with two – Stafanie Taylor and Chedean Nation.

The other regular WI players are Affy Fletcher (Windward Islands), who did not play due to injury, Akeira Peters and Quiana Joseph (Windward Islands), and Tremaine Smartt (Guyana). Shemaine Campbell who was recently dropped from the team had a fairly decent tournament with the bat and gloves. She led her team from the front in most matches.

The only solution of course is to provide each territory with more resources so that more work can be put into developing players and players can play more cricket throughout the year. This is the obvious solution, but as is always the obvious challenge, money makes this an issue.

Players also need to take more responsibility and step up when they are called, or rather put their hands up when they know their team needs them. International players should stand out, not fit in with players, many of who only play that single tournament each year. For many years, many of our international players have been seamlessly fitting in with players who do not play half the amount of cricket they do, nor at that level. 

Getting quality cricket when countries only play a single, two-week tournament each year is no easy task. Some teams only prepare a month or so before the tournament.

The current strategy doesn’t seem to be improving regional cricket. And if cricket at the regional level does not improve, then the international cricket team won’t either. And this would be all well and good, if the rest of the world were not investing heavily in their women. But it is, and the WI needs to do more to keep up. Long gone are the days when we could rely solely on talent when everyone else is merging talent with technology and proper preparation. notably, after the team’s embarrassing outing at its’ last World Cup, the CWI has endeavored to make changes to its preparation process. Hopefully this is not only because the WI are hosting the event. But rather because it has rightfully acknowledged that 1 week camps before tours and limited exposure for new players cannot work anymore. 

Either way, regardless of the challenges, a way forward must be found. Do we sit back and be complacent? Or honest and critical in order to get the job done?