Captain Hayley Matthews has underscored the importance of consistency if West Indies Women are to make an impact at next month’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup, and believes the pitches will also be a decisive factor in results.
The Caribbean side, winners of the 2016 edition of the tournament India, have found themselves on a wretched nine-game losing streak in T20 Internationals but Matthews said she was buoyed by their “strategic and calculated” preparation for the South African showpiece.
“As a team we have big aspirations of playing a high level of competitive cricket. One of the main objectives we have is to expectantly showcase our improvements upon our first-round exit from the tournament in 2020,” Matthews said in her column for the International Cricket Council.
“We’ve had time to regroup and make developments to both our individual and team game which can hopefully assist us in creating some upsets, to take us along a path to the finals.
“In a contentious tournament like this, we believe consistent performances are vital to a successful run. As a result, we believe a confident run can also bring about the breakout of budding talent within the squad.”
She added: “Heading into this tournament, our immediate preparation has been very strategic and calculated. It has given us the opportunity to acclimatize to the conditions in South Africa, an entire month early.
“This comes through our Tri Nation series against India and the hosts themselves, who are both world class opponents going into a tournament like this.”
Since their 2016 triumph, West Indies have suffered several disappointments in T20 World Cup outings. In 2018, they were good enough to reach the semi-finals before being dumped out by Australia Women and in 2020, they won just one of four games to miss out on the final four.
The Caribbean side have continued to struggle of recent, whitewashed 5-0 by England Women in the Caribbean last December and then losing all four games of their Tri-Series this month.
Heading in the February 10th to 26th tournament, however, Matthews backed her side to turn around their form, pointing to her side’s bowling as their main asset, along with the infusion of new blood from the Under-19 setup.
“At the moment, our squad comprises a mixture of experience and youth, providing balance to the charismatic aura of our team,” said Matthews.
“Our bowling has proven to be our strength over the past year, which when paired with our exciting fielding, can help us to rally close games.
“With dependable veterans, like Shakera Selman, Afy Fletcher and Stafanie Taylor leading the way with the ball, there is always a shot at defending almost any total set.”
She continued: “With that being said, small totals have now become much harder to defend on a regular basis. Women’s T20Is have come a long way in recent years and the standard of play has improved significantly.
“The game has become more competitive, with more teams having the ability to beat any other on a given day, and the gap between the top and bottom has narrowed.”
Matthews also hailed the quality of the pitches in South Africa, pointing out that they offered advantages for both batsman and bowlers.
“South Africa has a reputation for having good cricketing conditions and is known for producing fast, bouncy pitches that assist fast bowlers but can also have a bit in it for the spinners as well,” the 24-year-old noted.
“The ball tends to come on to the bat nicely, making it a good place for batters to score runs. The teams that are able to adapt to the conditions in South Africa and make the most of the pitches will have an advantage.
“I can tell the fans to expect some high-scoring matches, but also, don’t be surprised if there are some low scoring games, due to bowlers liking the conditions here.” (CMC)