WEST INDIES bowling legend Courtney Walsh, recently named coach of the beleaguered regional women’s team, wants to evaluate as many players as possible ahead of next year’s qualification for the 2022 50-over World Cup.
“I have to accept the pool [of players] as it is now, get my sleeves rolled up, and see as many of the players as I can before the next competition,” he said during a media conference on Monday.
“So I’ll have a good idea as to the pool I have and how I’m gonna get them ready, and so that we have good backup [players] as well,” Walsh, the leading wicket-taker in Tests for West Indies with 519 victims, told journalists.
The novel coronavirus pandemic — which has stalled regional cricket competitions at various levels since March — and paucity of funding are two major challenges that Cricket West Indies (CWI) has to grapple with, even while devising development plans.
Walsh, 57, said staging a training camp is first on his agenda if he has his way.
“What I’d love to do is to get a camp going at the earliest convenience, [and] get everybody involved so I can start looking at the players. There are players I want to look at myself…and see where they are at and get a gauge as to where they can go.
“The more cricket you play, the pool is a little wider, so that’s why I emphasise that it’s important for me to get some camps going to get to look at various players,” explained Walsh, who was appointed head coach of Windies Women just after their 0-5 drubbing at the hands of hosts England last month.
“I’d like to see more cricket being played across the region. They [players] will be exposed, we’ll get to see them, encourage them to play and get the talent pool a bit bigger because if we can get more women playing at the regional level that’s a big plus for Cricket West Indies,” the former fast bowler and West Indies captain reiterated.
The Jamaican is in charge of a women’s side that has struggled in recent times, despite winning the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup in India four years ago.
West Indies reached the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean two years ago, but were eliminated at the group stage earlier this year in Australia with their lone win coming against unfancied Thailand.
West Indies’ 0-5 loss to England Women was their third-straight bilateral T20 series whitewash since 2019. They lost 0-3 to world champions Australia and 0-5 to India last year.
Throughout the nightmare run, some of the team’s prominent players have battled poor form.
“There are few people around who have not done well — we have to re-evaluate what we have. We have to look at those players, look at the emerging players that we have and try to strike the right balance,” Walsh noted.
Last week, James Adams, the CWI director of cricket, said Walsh’s appointment is part of a broad-based effort to develop the sport in the region.
“He will be overseeing the programme initially, until the end of the next two ICC Women’s World Cups in 2022, and he 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,” Adams said.
When asked about his role, Walsh gave assurance that he is all in.
“My heart is in West Indies cricket; it has always been, and will always be. Whatever I can do to enhance and improve the standard of our cricket I’m happy to do so.
“We’re looking at the High Performance Centre [in terms of] getting more female players into programmes. There might be youngsters out there playing Under-15 or Under-19 that we need to get into the system,” he said.
Walsh added: “If they [CWI] are going to need my expertise or my input, they’ve got it because that’s what I’m here for. I’m excited about this opportunity and I can’t wait to get out there and get the job done.”
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