World T20 2023 Preview: West Indies
Can West Indies Remember How to Win?
Six years ago the West Indies won this tournament. In the last four years however the team has won only 9 games from 39 matches played. Can Hayley Matthews and her team put the horror stretch behind them and remember what it feels like to win?
In more recent times, it’s even worse. They won one match in 2022, against New Zealand, out of ten played. Worryingly the recent form is abysmal, going down 5-0 against England at home in December and losing all four matches they played in the South Africa Tri-Series last month.
To make matters worse, West Indies haven’t even looked competitive. They have forgotten how to win cricket matches.
Returning to the squad is a name that will warm the hearts of all West Indies supporters, that of former captain Stafanie Taylor, a proven performer for the team and a welcome addition to a batting line-up that has struggled while she has been absent.
Included in the squad are three players from the recent U19 World Cup, Trishan Holder, Zaida James and Djenaba Joseph. This injection of youth into the squad is much needed, for the West Indies have had very little success with some of the senior players who seem to be on a revolving door, in and out of the team.
West Indies are in Pool B, along with England, India, Ireland and Pakistan. An unkind draw means the team will be facing two of the tournament favourites in their first two matches. It could well be all over by the time they meet “easier” opposition.
One thing the West Indies will want to remember, is about this time last year, in a different country in a different format, but in a World Cup. They surprised a number of teams, notably England, who they played first, and went on to reach the semi finals. Can they dig deep and repeat history?
It comes down to this: Hayley Matthews must lead the way for her team with both bat and ball. If former skipper Stafanie Taylor can find some early touch then between those two they can drag a few other players in their slipstream. If Shemaine Campbelle can contribute like she did in the ODI World Cup then that’s a solid three.
Here’s where the youth of Trishan Holder, Zaida James and Djenaba Joseph can contribute, building on the success of those senior players. Zaida James may well star with the bat – and being a left-hander does give her an advantage at the selection table. Aside from those six players, there is not a lot else to cheer about with the batting. They have to do it.
Both wicket keepers, Rashada Williams and Shemaine Campbelle are capable, although I would give the nod to the latter. Her voice behind the stumps gives West Indies a twelfth player on the field.
The old firm of Shamilia Connell and Shakera Selman will return with the new ball. Steady and reliable Selman rarely misses a beat while Connell’s speed can be unnerving for batters at times.
Karishma Ramharack should have a good series with her off-breaks – adds another left-handed batter to the line-up as well. However she is one of three off spinners, alongside Taylor and Matthews. Again, this is where Zaida James may prove handy, bowling left-arm slow, turning the ball away from the right-hander.
This is not so much a tough road to walk as much as a very tall mountain to climb. This is a supreme challenge for this West Indies team, battling far stronger teams and having lost their way completely over the last 12 months. Just one victory from 14 matches.
“Where have you gone Deandra Dottin? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” (Apologies to Paul Simon.)
There is no Dottin, but is a glimmer of hope if only the West Indies can muster up the exciting brand of cricket they played at the ODI World Cup. It’s about remembering how to win again. Can they?