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McWatt: WI Women shine again, WI men batted too slowly but credit to CWI for Academy plans

“[…] West Indies cricket fans all over the world should now be overjoyed with the most wonderful news of Cricket West Indies’ announced intentions to create an Antigua Coolidge Cricket Centre-based Emerging Players Annual Academy.

“[…] Many will expect that legends such as Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Ian Bishop, Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be invited to be involved with the Academy as recognised experts in bowling and batting…”

The following guest column on the performances of the West Indies Women, the new Cricket West Indies (CWI) Emerging Players Academy, and WI’s drawn First Test was submitted to Wired868 by Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt:

Photo: West Indies cricket great Sir Curtly Ambrose (centre) tries to inspire the Rising Stars Team in the build-up to the 2022 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
(Copyright CWI Media)

The Women’s ICC 2022 World Cup, the Antigua-hosted West Indies-England First Test and Cricket West Indies’ announced plans for the creation of a new Emerging Players Academy are the primary topics of interest that would have garnered the attention of Caribbean cricket fans within recent days. As such, they are now most deserving of this article’s attention.

First and foremost, however, regular readers would have noticed the absence of ‘Reds’ Perreira’s byline from this article. Reds is currently addressing some issues which require his full attention. He has, therefore, requested that he be excused from participating as he’s done before.

KFC Munch Pack

Reds’ valuable contributions to previous articles have been gratefully appreciated and will now surely be missed. As the theatrical saying goes, however, ‘the show must go on’!

The West Indies Women’s ICC 2022 World Cup campaign got off to the most wonderful start imaginable, with somewhat surprising victories over both tournament hosts New Zealand and defending champions England. It has, however, subsequently suffered the setback of a comprehensive 11 March loss to India by the massive margin of 155 runs.

Photo: West Indies batter Hayley Matthews in action against New Zealand in the ICC Women’s World Cup on 4 March 2022.
(via ICC)

Despite the setback, after three matches played and with four remaining, the West Indies Women are still on equal footing with India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on four points. And with two of their remaining four matches scheduled to be against the lowly ranked Pakistan and Bangladesh Women’s teams, our ladies are still very much in contention for one of the coveted semi-final spots.

The manner in which the West Indies Women played in winning their first two matches was most commendable. Having disposed of their Kiwi hosts by three runs in their very exciting opening encounter, the Caribbean Women then fashioned a remarkable seven-run victory over the defending champions in their second match.

What was most admirable about both victories was the refusal to succumb and the fighting spirit displayed by our Caribbean ladies. Equally admirable was the impression they created of their total commitment and willingness to play for each other and to always put the team’s best interests ahead of any other considerations.

Hopefully, despite the minor setback of the loss to India, they will now be able to quickly recapture their sense of self-belief and competitive team spirit. Enough, we hope, to ensure success in their remaining matches and lead to the desired semifinal qualification.

Photo: West Indies star allrounder Deandra Dottin is ecstatic after pouching another catch.
(via CWI Media)

While our ladies have been engaged in their quest for ICC World Cup glory, their male counterparts have been taking on England in the Antigua-hosted First Test of 2022 Apex Series. After five days of at times pedestrian cricket played on a very flat Sir Vivian Richards Stadium pitch, the eventual result was predictably a draw.

There were, however, some meaningful takeaways for the West Indies from the Test, particularly in terms of the batting. Nkrumah Bonner demonstrated his continuing consistency by registering his second Test century in the first innings.

Bonner’s 355-ball 123 rescued the West Indies from a somewhat precarious position of 127 for 4. The innings declined considerably from the promising start it had been given by an 85-run opening stand between skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (55) and the reincarnated John Campbell (35)

Bonner and Jason Holder added 79 very valuable runs for the fifth wicket. There were other useful Bonner-led lower-order partnerships as well. He added 73 with wicketkeeper Joshua DaSilva for the sixth wicket, combined with Kemar Roach (15) in adding 44 for the eight wicket, then posted a further 46 with Veerasammy Permaul (26) before his was finally the ninth wicket to fall.

Photo: West Indies batsmen Jason Holder (third from left) and Nkrumah Bonner give each other a pat on the back at the end of the First Test in Antigua on 12 March 2022.
(Copyright SkySports)

The Desmond Haynes-led West Indies selection panel will also have been disappointed by the double-innings failures of three of the team’s top-order batsmen. Campbell (35, 22), Shamarh Brooks (18, 5) and Jermaine Blackwood (11, 2) all recorded sub-par scores that must have caused the selectors considerable concern.

While the West Indies would have been relatively happy with their overall batting efforts during the Test, much the same cannot be said of the bowling. Although the pitch was flat and of no assistance whatsoever, the West Indies bowling still suffered from far too inconsistent lines and lengths.

There were centuries for three of England’s batsmen, Johnny Bairstow (140) in the first innings followed by Jack Crawley (121) and Joe Root (109) in the second, as the West Indies bowlers failed to make any meaningful inroads into England’s batting.

The West Indies’ overall cause in fulfilling the ultimate objective of winning the Test, would not have been helped by either the number of dropped catches during England’s first innings or by their own pedestrian batting in their second- and third-day response.

Photo: With five catchers waiting to pounce, West Indies allrounder Jason Holder safely negotiates another threatening delivery from England’s Jack Leach during the final day of the First Test in Antigua on 12 March 2022.
(Copyright Getty Images)

They simply batted too slowly to give themselves any realistic chance of winning the Test. The eventual result, a draw, had, therefore, become predictable from as early as the fourth day’s rain-affected premature close of play.

The West Indies may now have to rethink the composition of their bowling attack for the all-important Barbados Second Test, which bowls off on March 16 at the famed Kensington Oval. It will indeed be very interesting to see who the selectors decide on as the squad for the Test.

While they await the announcement of that squad, West Indies cricket fans all over the world should now be overjoyed with the most wonderful news of Cricket West Indies’ announced intentions to create an Antigua Coolidge Cricket Centre-based Emerging Players Annual Academy.

That announcement must now arguably rank very highly as one of the best ever to have come from Cricket West Indies’ Antigua Factory Road Headquarters since the incumbent Ricky Skerritt first assumed his presidential duties some three years ago.

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt signals that he is not unhappy with the way things have gone so far.

According to a Cricket West Indies official media release, the primary aim of the Academy, which will be launched this coming July 22 with a student body of 30 U23 players, will be to ‘bridge the gap after the West Indies Under-19 level and assist their progression into one of the six Territorial Board Franchise squads, with the intention that they will graduate to earn one of the fifteen (15) retainer contracts available in each team’!

Kudos for this most wonderful initiative are now full deserved by all those who were directly involved in its development and pending implementation, particularly Cricket West Indies development manager, Jimmy Adams, who was most likely its primary architect.

With the news of the Academy’s creation now in the public domain, many a West Indies cricket fan will be hoping for further announcements about its Faculty members. Many will expect that legends such as Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Ian Bishop, Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be invited to be involved with the Academy as recognised experts in bowling and batting.

Sir Andy should indeed be appointed as the Academy’s bowling dean and, similarly. Sir Viv as the batting dean.

Photo: West Indies pacer Andy Roberts steams in to bowl against Australia in 1975.

In addition to the already mentioned legends, there should be fielding coach-related roles for the likes of Roger Harper and Gus Logie.

Here’s to receipt of further announcements in the near future!

About Tony McWatt

Tony McWatt is Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager. He is the son of late former West Indies and Guyana wicketkeeper Clifford ‘Baby Boy’ McWatt.

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