Colin E. H. Croft
In a strange twist, West Indies Men’s team is now ranked No. 1 in world T-20’s, but, on paper, it is WI Women, ranked No. 2 in ICC World Championship standings, who have a much better chance of winning ICC World T-20 2016.
Also, if WI Women maintain a continuing ranking, being in the first four world’s ladies’ teams to the end of the qualifying period in the last quarter of this year, then they will automatically qualify for ICC Cricket 50-overs World Cup 2017 in England. That would be a wonderful achievement.
But WI Women could even top those 2017 qualification hopes, for 2016 must be WI Women’s best opportunity to try to emulate their male counterparts’ achievement of winning ICC WT-20 2012 in Sri Lanka. It could be WI Women’s turn this year in India!
Previous No. 1 ranked men’s team Sri Lanka has recently been beaten by New Zealand, losing that top ranking then too, allowing WI to succeed them. Meanwhile, WI’s women, with pedigree and experienced personnel still intact, can pull off that final surprise!
What is quite interesting in this short lead-up to ICC World T-20 2016 in March is that most of WI’s Men stars who made that win at Sri Lanka 2012 possible, while still playing well elsewhere, are no longer even contracted by West Indies Cricket Board. No-one even knows if, indeed, those players will be “allowed” to be included in selection processes for ICC WT-20 2016.
Except for Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin, who have been awarded 2016 contracts from WICB, all others who won ICC W-T-20 2012 are now languishing in loose limbo.
Darren Sammy, captain in 2012, Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell and Dwayne Smith are either, lustily plying their trade for private entities, injured, banned from bowling, or semi-retired.
How exactly will WI replace these guys if they are not allowed to be available for selection? Most of those players named are still eligible to play for WI, even without contracts, but will they indeed be selected, given the agro of the last two years? Who, in the present WICB-NAGICO 2016 competition, plus those contracted for 2016, would be ready replacements for those WI dynamos of 2012’s win? Tough questions that must be answered immediately!
Meanwhile, WI Women still have nearly all of their veterans who have had very bitter disappointments when close to that promised land of a world championship. They are now undertaking an always difficult, competitive tour of South Africa, before embarking on what could be swan-songs for many; to India. W-WT-20 2016 could be WI Women’s very last chance at world glory in the foreseeable future, for several veterans playing in such tournaments!
They recently beat Pakistan in ODI’s and T-20-I’s, but have fallen at penultimate hurdles – semi-finals three times in the last four W-WT-20 tournaments; 2010 in West Indies, 2012 in Sri Lanka and probably their best previous chance, 2014 in Bangladesh.
Those, though, were massive improvements from 2009, when they were eliminated in the group stages, so WI Women must compose themselves fully to scale those two last hurdles in India to get to the final, then win, ICC W-WT-20 2016!
It must be noted that this tour to South Africa by WI Women is a renewal of an always very tight, tough tussle between these two teams. Having played each other sixteen times previously in ODI’s, each team has won seven games, with one tie and one no-result. Hard cricket indeed!
In T-20-I’s, WI Women have won all nine meetings between the two teams, so they should be confident to again eclipse their hosts in three ODI’s; 24, 27 and 29 February; then three T-20-I’s on 04, 06 and 09 March. What excellent preparations for ICC W-WT20 2016 in India!
New captain Stefanie Taylor, like compatriot Chris Gayle, at least on the field, is required world-wide and continues to be excellent. Her stint in Australia could only make her better, more knowledgeable, and, as WI Women’s captain, more astute. Her leadership, batting, fielding, cajoling and encouraging her troops, will all be extremely vital if WI Women are to win in India.
It is also pleasing to note that former captain Merissa Aguilleira has recovered from her injuries and have improved much this last year. Not only will her almost always superb wicket-keeping skills be necessary, but her welcomed return to batting form against Pakistan, and combative attitude, not to mention experiences, could make her Taylor’s crutch when team chips are down.
New vice-captain Shakera Selman has matured quickly, while Shermaine Campbell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Stacy-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Anisa Mohammed, Shaquana Quintyne and Tremaybe Smartt; all well experienced; should make waves. Hayley Matthews and Shamilia Connell are enterprising cricketers who would add value to every game for WI Women.
This is the best time of our lives, and last time, perhaps, that this group of women might have, collectively, a chance to win ICC Women’s World T-20. Go girls, do it for us in 2016! Enjoy!
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