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West Indies women – Courtney Walsh on a quest to restore West Indies brand to women’s team

Courtney Walsh wants to see West Indies women’s team smiling again – he also wants to see them winning, but believes the two go hand-in-hand.

Walsh has laid out his blueprint as the new West Indies women’s head coach on the eve of meetings with the region’s cricket hierarchy to discuss what is possible under financial and physical constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Top of his wish list is to restore West Indies’ brand of cricket, starting with an assessment of the talent pool via a series of training camps and either more regional women’s cricket or, if that’s not feasible, scouting trips to the various island nations.

“I don’t want to use the word revamp,” Walsh said in a Zoom press conference on Monday. “We’ve got to start to refocus, re-energise and try to recreate and spot new talent as well.

“Unfortunately we’re not doing as much cricket in the region for the women as we would like to but we have to look at what we have and to get that sparkle back. I would like to see us smiling again, playing the West Indian brand of cricket that we know we can play.”

Walsh, who is West Indies’ leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 519 scalps, was announced as women’s head coach last week, immediately following the team’s 5-0 defeat in their bilateral T20I series in England. He takes over from Gus Logie, with Andre Coley holding the position on an interim basis for the tour to England, which marked the return of top-flight women’s cricket after the pandemic.

Walsh, who had previously worked with the women’s team during the T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this year, has also worked as assistant coach with the Bangladesh men’s team and served as a West Indies selector.

“That pride of wanting to play for West Indies is what I want to instil”

Courtney Walsh

He believed West Indies women had performed better in England than the series scoreline suggests, but he also conceded that they had suffered from an over-reliance on “a couple of players” who had “been carrying the team”.

“You cannot just be dependent on one or two players,” Walsh said. “Yes, we have those players who are going to lead the charge, but we also we have good back-up players who can and will have to step to the plate. It’s giving them that confidence, that self belief.

“Sometimes we are afraid to fail, but if you’re failing and you get better, or you’re improving by making a mistake or two, I can live with that, but it can’t be the same constant mistakes all the time.

“I want the players to believe in themselves, and they’re smiling and enjoying what they’re doing. Yes, you’re going to have a bad patch, you’re going to have the battle, the hard feelings, here and there, but that consistency and that pride of wanting to play for West Indies is what I want to instil.”

Deandra Dottin was the leading run-scorer in the series against England with 185 runs at an average of 37.00. But she and captain Stafanie Taylor, who had 78 runs at 26.00 were the only West Indies players to pass 40 runs for the series, exposing the lack of depth in the batting line-up.

West Indies missed Dottin’s bowling – she only sent down eight overs as she continues her comeback from shoulder surgery – and Shamilia Connell claimed seven wickets at 19.28 to be their leading wicket-taker on the strength of her 3 for 14 in the fifth match, which was reduced to five overs per side by rain.

As recently as last year, Taylor blamed a poor domestic women’s structure for failing to nurture young talent, despite West Indies having won the T20 World Cup in 2016.

Walsh will meet with Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave and director of cricket Jimmy Adams on Tuesday to discuss practical ways forward.

“I’d like to see more cricket being played, that’s obvious, in the region,” Walsh said. “If we can get more women playing in the region at the regional level, then that’s a big plus for Cricket West Indies and a bigger pool to look at.

“Obviously you want to see them in a match situation, but if that’s not going to happen then we might have a look at taking a core of coaches to the Windward Islands, to Jamaica, to Barbados and try to have fun days to see if we can spot talent.

“What I’d love to be able to do is get a camp going at the earliest convenience for everybody involved so I can start looking at the players… see where they’re at and get a good guideline or a gauge as to where they can go and who we need to prolong with, who we need to give specifics stuff to go and do, so we can get a little bit more technical with some of the players.

“I don’t know how soon we can have that in place in terms of that camp but that will be the first thing on my agenda.”

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