Courtney Walsh will need a lot of help


Courtney Walsh will need a lot of help

Saturday, October 03, 2020

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This newspaper is pleased at the appointment of Mr Courtney Walsh as head coach of West Indies women's cricket.

Technical director of West Indies cricket Mr James Adams says Mr Walsh will “be overseeing the programme initially until the end of the next two ICC Women's World Cups in 2022 and... will be pivotal in working with CWI's High Performance Team to move our whole women's programme forward, as part of our wider strategic plan which has women's cricket as a key priority.”

In recent years, Mr Walsh, among the legendary figures — not just in Caribbean, but global cricket — has established himself as a respected guide and mentor, not least during a stint with Bangladesh as their men's team bowling coach.

His appointment comes at a depressing time for Caribbean women's cricket — right on the heels of the regional team's 0-5 sweep by England in a Twenty20 (T20) series in Derby.

Given the overall context, those who follow sport closely won't have been surprised at the results in England.

It should be noted and recorded that the series took place in a biosecure environment triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Also, late September is not a good time for people from the tropics to be playing cricket in England. Worse, in late afternoon to evening. We are told that the final game, for instance, was played in hostile 10-degree Celsius temperatures.

Beyond all that, the harsh truth is that, because of a paucity of resources, Caribbean women do well to even be competitive with the world's strongest cricket teams.

West Indians must not ignore the fact that the women's team was competitive in England, despite the losses.

Truthfully, the regional women's triumph at the 2016 ICC T20 Cricket World Cup left the entire cricketing world in shock. Cricket watchers will recall that back in 2016 the West Indies men's T20 and Under-19 men's teams also won World Cup titles.

But the degree of difficulty for the women, because of the many resource shortcomings, made their achievement especially stunning.

The lot of Caribbean women's cricket has, we suspect, declined since then.

Before COVID-19 in Jamaica, for example, competition would have embraced just four teams with virtually all women who play cricket at a high level here.

There was no schools' league and development programmes were inadequate at best.

We would not be surprised if the situation in most other Caribbean countries is as bad, if not worse.

We hope the appointment of Mr Walsh — among the greatest fast bowlers of modern times — will help to inspire female cricketers, and encourage corporate Caribbean as well as governments to give a helping hand, even with economies having been hit hard by COVID-19.

It's important for everyone to understand that Mr Walsh will achieve nothing by himself. He will need all the support he can get from every side.

Crucially, systems and structures need to be in place at all levels to ensure sustainable success of West Indies cricket regardless of gender or age.

That's why the recommendations of the Don Wehby report aimed at making regional cricket's administrative arm, Cricket West Indies, a modern, business-like, professional entity, should be implemented with speed.

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