West Indies women on the rise even as men's team struggle

Saturday, November 17, 2018

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Up to the start of their clash with Sri Lanka late yesterday, West Indies Women were atop their group in the ICC World T20 Cricket World Cup with maximum points from two games following victories over Bangladesh and South Africa.

Pending the outcome of last night's game, the story for Miss Stafanie Taylor and her ladies was a case of “so far, so good”.

It hasn't been easy. Their victories so far have been hard-fought. And, in the classic tradition of Caribbean womanhood, their approach has been determined, never say die.

Their reward has been to remain on course to successfully defend the World T20 title they so stunningly claimed in 2016.

No doubt, when time allows, Miss Taylor and her team have been keeping a sympathetic eye on the fortunes of their male counterparts in Asia.

As expected, the West Indies men's team, eighth in the ICC Test match rankings, were outclassed 2-0 in the two-Test series by number one ranked India, and 1-3 in the follow-up One-Day International (ODI) series.

Hope that the men's team, without many of the stars who carried them to victory in the 2016 T20 World Cup could have turned their fortunes around in the shortest format on Indian soil were soon dashed. Mr Carlos Brathwaite's team were truly competitive only in the final game of the three-match series when they lost on the last ball for a 0-3 result in the T20 series.

As if to pile on the agony, on the eve of the start of a Test and limited overs tour of Bangladesh, word came this week that West Indies Test match captain, Mr Jason Holder, has been forced to withdraw because of a long-standing shoulder injury.

Mr Holder's leadership is one thing, but over the last year and a half he has improved to the point where he is among the world's leading Test match all-rounders and has become a pivotal figure in the West Indies team with bat and ball.

Given Mr Holder's absence, how the West Indies fare in Bangladesh, particularly in the two-Test series under the leadership of Mr Kraigg Brathwaite, will give cricket watchers a sense of the mental strength within what remains a largely youthful and inexperienced group.

It's important to note that this is a squad bearing the scars of painful upheavals in West Indies cricket over recent years.

Bangladesh have their own problems. They lost 0-2 to West Indies on their Caribbean tour in mid-year with their batsmen failing badly as West Indies seamers, led by Mr Holder, relished pace-friendly conditions. The series defeat meant Bangladesh were relegated to number nine in the Test match rankings with West Indies improving to eighth.

Then to make matters worse, Bangladesh, playing at home but weakened by injuries, were held to a 1-1 series draw by Zimbabwe in a just-ended Test series.

In an understandable reversal of Caribbean conditions in July, West Indies should expect spin-friendly pitches as the home side strives to win by making the most of their world-class spin bowlers. Again, how West Indies cope with the adversities will be highly instructive.

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