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Re-positioning WI women’s cricket
After an appalling campaign at the 2016 ICC World Cup, the WI women cricketers begin their Australia World Cup 2021 qualification campaign against Sri Lanka at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy on October 11, 13 and 15.
The 2017 World Cup campaign was symptomatic of the deep structural problems identified by the Caricom Cricket Review Panel (CCRP) 2015:
• Lack of financial and infrastructural support and commitment to the sustainable development of women’s cricket” (p 5). In 2015 women cricketers received match fees for the annual regional tournament for the first time.
• “There is no organised, official programmes and policies in place by the CWI (WICB) to develop women’s cricket” (p 5).
• “CWI management looks towards the Territorial Boards and Governments to take the lead in the area of cricket development for women, while it accepts the responsibility for the development of cricket skills for the men’s teams” (p 5).
• Whereas there are annual U15, U17, U19 and A Team cricket for men, the women players are restricted to playing one round of 50 overs and T20 matches every year.
• “There are no organised, consistent set of structures in place by the Territorial Boards. Some Boards do have clubs, do not encourage the development of clubs and do not organise national/territorial competitions” (p 5).
The following is required urgently:
• An assessment of the CCRP issues as well as the suggestions of the Pybus Report 2014.
• The establishment of a practical strategic plan for the development of the women’s game over a five to ten year period.
• Recognising that by 2021, 15 of the current core of 20 players will be 29 years and over including Taylor and Dottin. Therefore, age group development has to be on the front burner of the development programme for future teams! Women cricketers have to be part of the Academy system.
• Ensure that territorial boards implement strategies that are consistent across the region. Build on existing programs for men’s game. Set targets and report on their successes on a yearly basis.
• The regional tournament should include more cricket and efforts should to strengthen some of the ‘weaker’ teams with players from more established countries so as to maintain an overall standard of performance while the benefits of the development programs kick-in.
If the structural development of the women’s game does not have strategic direction, the gap between the WI and Australia, England, India, New Zealand and South Africa will continue to widen and Sri Lanka and Pakistan, will eventually begin to fancy their chances. Additionally, the onus is on the CWI to ensure that the 2016 ICC T20 title is not remembered by history as an aberration of the norm!