ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — The inconsistency of the West Indies Women's batting department is a concern for Head Coach Courtney Walsh as the squad gets ready to take on New Zealand Women in three One-Day Internationals and five Twenty20 Internationals starting here on Friday.
While saying he was "happy with the balance of spinners and seamers" in the team and expressing confidence they could hold their own, even in the absence of the side's leading wicket-taker and "world-class" off-spinner Anisa Mohammed who is on a six-month break from duty, Walsh said on Tuesday he was "concerned in terms of the batting that we have".
West Indies Women will be without leading batter Deandra Dottin who on July 31 announced her retirement from international cricket, and Walsh made the point that "you don't replace players [like her] overnight".
"Hayley [Matthews], Stafanie [Taylor] with their experience and other batters, there are a number of batters there but no one is showing that level of consistency," the head coach said during a virtual media briefing.
Identifying Kyshona Knight, Chedean Nation, and Natasha McLean as among those he said he hoped would show their mettle, the former West Indies fast bowler added: "There's a fair amount of batting around but we want to see other people taking on the responsibility of being consistent and I think that's what has been lacking in this team for the last couple of seasons, and this is a chance now for people now to put their hands up."
He said the absence of stalwarts Mohammed and Dottin who have done extremely well in the last year has left "a major void that is never going to be easy to fix or fill".
However, the head coach said it was a chance for others to come to prominence.
"I think...it gives some other persons some opportunity to sort of establish themselves and develop their own play. So I'm [looking at] the positive side. Yes, we're going to miss those two — whenever you have experienced players of that quality you're going to miss them — but I'm hoping that others step up to the plate and we can get that level of consistency from them...So it's giving other players the chance and I'm hoping they grab it with both hands," he said.
Walsh also addressed queries about the omission of Kiana Joseph and Kaysia Schultz.
He said although Joseph had done well in the recently ended Skyexch 6IXTY and Massy Women's Caribbean Premier League tournaments, she had "a fitness issue".
"She knows the requirements and we are hoping that she will get there sooner rather than later," he added.
As for Schultz, the head coach said: "It's a little bit of consistency in her bowling and obviously she didn't get to play in the CPL so we couldn't judge her on that, but she's someone that we still have high hopes for."
The Matthews-led unit will play their first ODI at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, and Walsh said he was expecting the players to fully sport the Barbadian who took over in June.
"She has been very good so far, she's been tremendous, and all the players have responded very well to her, they're giving her the support and the coaching staff has been giving her all the support that we can," he said, expressing the hope that the upcoming series would give her more confidence.
"She's been doing everything that has been asked of her. She has just been taking on this responsibility and that's very good to see," added Walsh who said Matthews had also been receiving tremendous support from her predecessor Stafanie Taylor.
A 17-member provisional squad was announced on Monday, which includes wicketkeeper-batsman Natasha McLean and right-arm off-break bowler Sheneta Grimmond who have been recalled to the West Indies team.
A match-day squad of 13 players will be selected ahead of each of the three CG United ODIs scheduled for September 16, 19 and 22. The team will then play a five-match T20 Internationals series from September 25 to October 6.
Squad — Hayley Matthews (captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Shabika Gajnabi, Jannillea Glasgow, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams.