Andre Coley urges West Indies batters to step up their game
Andre Coley, West Indies interim head coach, urged the batters to take up the responsibility if they want to challenge England in the five-match T20I series starting on Monday (September 21).
“White ball cricket and specifically T20 cricket is about scoring runs. If you watch the history of our cricket, our bowling department has always held its own and [done] very well, it’s been very competitive,” Coley told reporters on Sunday evening. “So, we will need to post challenging totals and be able to chase them as well. [We need] to be clear in our roles (of) each player and how we want to go about looking at the batting, and we should be okay.”
West Indies played a couple of intra-squad matches earlier this week ahead of the first T20I. Skipper Stafanie Taylor, ace allrounder Deandra Dottin and opening batter Lee-Ann Kirby have been among the runs. Coley was pleased with the performance of the side in the warm up matches.
“As I mentioned, the batting was very good in all the innings that were played. We batted the full complement of overs and there were individual performances as well as those partnerships throughout,” he said.
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Coley, who took over as the coach ahead of the series, believes both teams start on an “even keel” due to the lack of cricket. West Indies and England haven’t played any international cricket since the T20 World Cup in March owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Both teams have not played in international cricket for some time. So, the way we see it is that we’re both starting on an even keel. We are very happy that our preparations have gone well. We are all positive about the outcome of the series and everybody is looking forward to getting started tomorrow. We are very upbeat and we are comfortable [with] our preparation; what’s left now is for us to play,” he said.
The 18-member West Indies squad arrived in England on September 1 and has been training under bio-secure environment while going through the mandatory quarantine. The interim head coach expressed his happiness at the way the training sessions have gone and assured that all the players are in a good mental space.
“We have planned to ensure that everybody’s clear about why we’re here and how everybody can actually fit in the overall puzzle of us having a successful tour. We have made sure that the way we scheduled the training and so on. It’s allowed for enough downtime for them to rest and recover and to also spend time,” he said.
“We have had support from mental skills coach Amanda Johnson, who is in Trinidad. We’ve had constant contact with her from start of this tour and that will continue throughout. So, we are in a very good place.”
“We talk about players all the time, but it is very important that support staff are also in a good place. The entire touring party is very positive and upbeat about where we are at the moment. And we’re really just looking forward to starting the series tomorrow.”
Incidentally, the last time these two sides met – in the T20 World Cup – was also the last international match they played. England managed to defeat West Indies in a convincing fashion, but Coley downplayed the chances of that 46-run loss playing on the minds of his players.
“History is good as long as we can be able to take the good things forward and be better. So that’s the focus for us. Our focus is what’s ahead of us at the moment. And as I’ve said both teams, ourselves and England, are restarting international cricket which is very good for the game and we believe that we’re starting on a level playing field,” Coley added.
England were to play a tri-series against India and South Africa from late August, but both teams pulled out of the proposed series before West Indies replaced them to mark their return to international cricket.
“I’m very happy for them from our standpoint, in terms of West Indies cricket. We were able to [help] the men to restart international men’s cricket and again, we’re here restarting women cricket. So that says a lot for the passion in the West Indies and our commitment to the game.”
“We are looking forward to that opportunity to be able turn up at the park. I mean, ECB has done well in terms of putting things together in such a way that, you know, we have been protected here and we’ve gone through our preparations,” he concluded.