The truth is that the West Indies’ (WI) Women’s t20 team performed poorly against Australia in the semi-final of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s t20 World Cup at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on November 22.
In a semi-final on a testing pitch, the WI batters displayed a total lack of skill and technique required in the circumstances.
It is hard to understand why a team that had done so well in the preliminary stages of the tournament could have a complete reversal in the dynamic environment of a semi-final where there is no turning back. Or is it really so difficult to understand?
Throughout the competition the batting never clicked except in one game against a woefully weak Sri Lankan team. It managed 187/5 and they won the game by 83 runs.
Yet against England, WI scraped home with three balls left, the only game they batted second; and they were only chasing 115. The batting was inconsistent and lacked skill all round, and maybe the pressure on just a few of the same players to score runs every time had their toll on the team.
Successful batters at the crease in any form of cricket are the ones that are dependable; their failures are few and far between. And the way for this to happen is to have the appropriate skill and technique which breeds self-confidence that contains the right attitude to approach batting. Generally speaking, this was deficient in the WI batting line-up.
Any captain or coach who is not convinced that their batting could deliver the goods, always field first. This is not the ideal but fully understandable in the circumstances. However, batting second has many problems attached to it, particularly in matches of vital importance like semi-finals and finals where it’s strictly a knock-out arrangement.
So what happens? In cricket it’s known as ‘choking’ which means that the side so afflicted suffer from an attack of fear caused by negative responses to given situations; the bigger the occasion, the more likelihood for this problem to manifest.
Thus the WI women lost the game at the conclusion of the Australian innings, for their target was 143 to win. Their batting never clicked as happened throughout the tournament hence, given the prominence of the fixture, the team knew it was beyond them, especially in light of the fact that their bowling and fielding (WI) were their strongest suits.
Greg Chappell, the former Australian captain, said once, “On winning the toss, nine times out of ten, I will choose to bat and the tenth time I’ll think about it then bat!”
Although this was a tongue-in-cheek statement and not rule of thumb, one got the point he was trying to make – that very few times is it worthy to consider fielding first. It all boils down to self-confidence.
Inspirational players missing
WI captain Stafanie Taylor said afterwards: “I still think bowling first was the right decision. We let them get away in the last six overs. We didn’t bat properly in the chase. We came into the game with a lot of confidence; it was just one of those off days…”
The question is why— why did you think that bowling first was the right decision? Why didn’t the team bat properly in the chase? What is the reason for having an off day if you came into the game with confidence?
This was not some club match or a tour game; this match was a World Cup semi-final! Taylor wouldn’t have the experience and that’s where the coaches come in. They are the ones I find fault with for several reasons.
From the very first game one spotted many flaws in the batting that obviously was never addressed during the length of the tournament. The team was devoid of its vitality by leaving out its most qualified and successful spinner Anisa Mohammed and the most mature, inspiring and popular player, ex-skipper wicket keeper batter Merissa Aguillera.
These two players had already played in six previous t20 World Cups and with that type of maturity and experience ‘choking’ is absent. How is it possible, by what stretch of the imagination, to leave out two women of such rich and vast experience from the semi-final?
Their presence alone on the field of play would have been a fillip to the younger members of the side. They were an influence on the bench, especially Aguillera, urging their teammates on their way.
It’s not so much of a mystery because of the WI chairman of selectors Courtney Browne who does not have much idea of what a balanced team is, what an inspiring person on a team could do to uplift her colleagues, what advice can be imparted on the field of play to the captain, their calming influence on the other players. In other words, they’re worth their weight in gold.
Well tried ladies, you have to take the criticism but the fault lies off the field in your short-sighted coaches and the ignorance of your selectors.
Members of the WI Women’s cricket team celebrate a victory during the competition