Survival- Women's Cricket
Brief evidence emerging from the 2014 Caribbean Women's Cricket Tournament being played in Dominica points to a marked failure of women's cricket in the region to acquit itself as praiseworthy, and Dominica's performances have so far been uninspired. Our girls only managed a score of 52 at Windsor Park batting first against Barbados who won by eight wickets. Then, against Grenada at Botanic Gardens it was a similar sad story of 39 all out in 23 overs allowing the Grenadians a win by five wickets. The trend has not varied much with performance by the other Windwards territories. St. Lucia amassed 58 against St. Vincent at the Gardens in a losing cause and Jamaica's 95 was too much for St. Lucia at Benjamin Park, Portsmouth. The Lucians were only able to reach 72. A score of 34 in 19 overs was all St.Vincent could respond to Guyana's 193 at Windsor Park.
All this would tend to indicate a failure to come to terms with the West Indies Cricket Board's optimism when it took the regional women's cricket under its wings at Bourda in 2004. The Windwards territories have failed to live up to expectations and both Dominica and St. Lucia have taken retrograde steps as far as their standards of performance goes. Gone are the days when St. Lucia, coached by the ever faithful Mr. Arthur, dominated Caribbean Women's Cricket, with the Jamaicans providing the strongest challenge, while Dominica had its eye on a serious effort of moving upwards.
A highly competitive situation has stunningly taken a brisk nosedive and demands nothing less than bold intervention. Little wonder the West Indies regional cricket team has failed to assume reasonable measures of competence on the international scene ----- the whole cannot be strong if the connecting parts are feeble in the extreme. Permit me to suggest the pertinence is not rehabilitation but downright basic development. The two are extremely diverse, and mistaking one for the other is pathetic indeed.
Do not misread the abysmal level of performance in the opening encounters of the tournament as a case of the bowling adopting superiority over the batting. Far from it, the bowling, as it appeared has not been of tremendous vintage. The batting reflects abject poverty.
If I were to be asked to provide advice as to how the Dominica women's cricket situation may be rectified, I would offer a two pronged approach to deal with the development of the realities in engaging in fullest understanding of batting standards on the one hand and simultaneously to foster technical responses in bowling within terms of feasible requirements. The players display potential but utilizing it is not resolved.
When Dominica played Grenada and collapsed for 39 in 23 overs, we should rightly conclude our girls "suffered" 23 overs and nothing less. It is unfortunate that the malaise of a limited overs label has allowed a misplaced element of crude priority to supersede the basics of traditional approach to batting. Any good ladies batting side should automatically be able to bat out 50 overs at four and a half runs per over --- at least against the opposition that was on hand at Windsor Park and the Gardens. Emphatically, soft dismissals were much too much on view!
On no account our team should be assaulted with derision. The players tried hard but their limitations in technique have been no less than formidable. So much so, there is every need to avoid bypassing realities which never conveniently go away within approaches of blissful ignorance. There is no other way to put it. What you don't know can hurt you immensely, despite all wonderfully great intentions. Meanwhile, it is saner to conclude our players--- far from underperforming have yet to reach the stage of proficiency needed to allow them to perform meaningfully.
Having said this, there is the grave danger of allowing things to stagnate until the next tournament appears on the horizon! A qualified programme of development, if applied with total sincerity within the next twelve months, can go strongly to turn things around for Dominica. Time is a great help but not when distorted in idleness. Remedial measures will be of great effect within conservative constraints of building on the tournament experience the players have obtained. This is better than starting from scratch with other players.
There will inevitably be need to introduce more innovative aspects of equipment to help advance and reinforce approaches to seeking quality performance and due consistency. In this regard the rather sane argument that a batsman who scores as many as ten runs while batting in top positions can be trained to lift his or her scoring to forty runs and beyond is of paramount value. There are ways to emphasize positive approaches while weeding out the negative.
Building on all this is the critical aspect of players given valuable initiation into organizing their individual innings via proper emphasis on shot selection and sharpened focus on watchfulness. One cannot score runs in the pavilion, only in the middle.
It took me two seconds while in the pavilion to detect that our women players have not addressed the consideration of the everyday cricket implement--- the cricket bat. I had always known there was a critical concern to be exercised as to utilizing a bat easily adaptable to your needs along the lines of optimum weight and manoeuvability. However, our ladies, by and large, simply adopt a bat, of whatever weight and balance, and conclude it is the best implement for them --- because of brand name or endorsement by some outstanding batsmen.
Nothing could be further from required sanity. What we have now is our women adapting to a given bat, and maybe in an entirely unscientific fashion, leaving a shortfall in elevated skill in bat control so vital to optimum shot output on a consistent basis.
Another point of concern is the business of equating performances arrived at locally alongside of what might be confronted from foreign teams. Inevitably the matter of discernment has to be a factor, but absolutes must always be kept well in sight. A good ball is good and a bad one is bad, regardless of who bowls it. Dominica Women's Cricket must stick to basic considerations and avoid neglecting absolute requirements for moving forward. The team needs much help, apparently not yet available to it. Within all reason the Dominica Cricket Association needs to invite knowledgeable persons to a critical analysis of Dominica's performance in the tournament with a view to chart a sensible way forward. The sooner the better.