Armed with positivity and intent, West Indies aim to end English tour on a high

West Indies' Stafanie Taylor (l) and England's Heather Knight (r) at the toss. © ECB/Twitter

Intent is a word that’s often made its appearance in the context of batting – referring to batters’ scoring patterns or strike rate; whether strike rates are the best way to judge intent is a story for another time.

“If we’re to get to 150, intent from the start is very important,” Andre Coley, interim head coach of West Indies, said on Tuesday (September 29) ahead of the fifth and final T20I of their series against England in Derby, when asked about the side’s repeated batting debacles.

“Opportunity is always a word that we use; we can’t keep squandering it. But one more game offers us the opportunity to show the learnings of the previous games and be better. Clarity in how we score individually and then just playing the situation as well.”

“Being positive is also very important.”

After the first two T20Is, the tourists shuffled their batting order, in a bid to space the trio of Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor. However, that didn’t bear fruit as they ended up losing their fourth T20I bilateral series in a row.

Not everything’s gone downhill for them, though.

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Coley said that the Windies have shown growth in all areas at some point during the series. For starters, in the last two T20Is, West Indies have scored more runs in the power play than England – three for 44 to England’s two for 32 in the fourth T20I and two for 40 as opposed to the hosts two for 33 in the third game. Moreover, their new-ball bowling has been on the money, never letting the English top-order settle before losing the plot horribly towards the end of the innings.

One of the focal points has been the visitors’ persistence with the misfiring Lee-Ann Kirby, who earned a surprise call-up to the national side ahead of the T20 World Cup earlier this year. Kirby has failed to be among the runs – be it in the middle-order in the first two games or at the top in the last two. Moreover, she has also been pedestrian on the field.

“We’ve had some challenges around Lee-Ann getting us off to a start,” said Coley.

“The key thing for us is to have our best XI in our team and try to be competitive while trying to manage the players just being back to training and playing. That’s what we did in the first three games and tried to gain advantage there.”

“In the last game we had to rest Selman – she had a finger injury – and gave a bit of a rest to Afy Fletcher. It’s always having the balance between having the number of players on tour to have given them opportunity and being as competitive as possible.”

Whether Kirby would be persisted with or whether the hard-hitting Natasha McLean would be given a game in the final match is anybody’s guess.

Moving over to the hosts’ side, although they’ve comfortably won the series, they’re not without problems of their own. Danielle Wyatt is struggling to find runs as hard as it is to spot water in a desert. The inconsistency of the top-order has meant that England’s middle and lower-middle order have had to give them the impetus to reach a score around the 150-mark.

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England’s fielding is an aspect that needs working and Anya Shrubsole would vouch for that having been denied at least a couple of chances to pick a wicket in the fourth T20I. While they gave Sophia Dunkley a chance in the fourth match, whether the seam-bowling department sees a rejig in the final match of the English summer is left to be seen.

England have never managed to win more than four matches in a bilateral series. They have the best chance at rectifying this stat come Wednesday (September 30) against a West Indies team, that appears confused about its approach and gameplay. However, with nothing to lose, expect the Caribbean side to come out all guns blazing.

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Squads:

England: Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Katie George, Sarah Glenn, Heather Knight (c), Amy Jones, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Afy Fletcher, Hayley Matthews, Aaliyah Alleyne, Cherry Ann Fraser, Natasha McClean, Shemaine Campbelle, Shabika Gajnabi, Chedean Nation, Britney Cooper, Sheneta Grimmond, Karishma Ramharack, Shamilia Connell, Chinelle Henry, Kaysia Schultz, Deandra Dottin, Lee Ann Kirby, Shakera Selman