I would like to see us smiling again: Courtney Walsh underlines plans as head coach of West Indies

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I would like to see us smiling again: Courtney Walsh underlines plans as head coach of West Indies

Courtney Walsh and Stafanie Taylor share a word. © Cricket West Indies/ Twitter

It is no secret that West Indies have had a terrible run in international cricket over the last couple of years. Since their incredible run to the semi-final of the 2018 T20 World Cup at home, the Caribbean side have won only eight matches (out of 35) across formats. In 2020 alone, they have managed only a solitary win - against Thailand at the T20 World Cup - losing their most recent series to England, 5-0.

In an attempt to turn their fortunes around, Cricket West Indies, on October 2, announced that legendary fast bowler, Courtney Walsh, would take over as head coach of the women's team. In his first press conference since taking up the job, Walsh outlined his immediate goals for the side, and how he plans to ensure the growth and development of the women's game in the region. He mentioned that his main aim is to re-energise the side and get them back to their best - playing with smiles on their faces.

"We have to obviously improve in all aspects and facets of the game," Walsh said on Monday (October 5). "But for me, the first thing would be consistency. I would try to get that to level where it should be and work with all the players to ensure that they achieve all of their goals and skill sets that we are working on."

Courtney Walsh appointed head coach of West Indies

"My whole idea and plan is to refocus, re-energise and also to look at what we have - the talents that we have, the players that we have - and work out how we can improve with those and players and with young players who come into the setup as well. We need to try to sort of create that brand that we know we can play, that we used to play. We have to look at what we have to do get that spark back in. At the end of it, I would like to see us smiling again, playing the West Indies brand of cricket that we know we can play."

"Going back to when we won , and a couple of years ago we were in a semi finals... That's the kind of thing that we want to get back on. And that's going to come from consistency and executing our plans, strategising, and how we get our tactical awareness up. I'm not going to leave any stones unturned. I am going to ensure that we give ourselves the best chance of improving."

One of the biggest issues to plague West Indies in recent times has been their over-reliance on a small group of senior players. The likes of Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews have been burdened by their responsibilities with the bat, with only Shemaine Campbelle putting in consistent performances for the side. With the ball, constant injuries to Shakera Selman and Shamilia Connell have left them with little firepower in the pace department.

When asked about whether the other players in the team have become complacent about their places due to a lack of competition, Walsh shrugged it off saying he wasn't keen on going by word of mouth and instead wanted to interact and work with the players himself before coming to any conclusions. He added that his aim as coach was to help the players believe in themselves again so they could play with freedom and showcase their skills on the big stage.

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"Personally, what I'd love to be able to do is to get a camp going at the earliest convenience where everybody is involved, where I can start looking at the players, because I don't want to just take word of mouth from other people. I want to have a personal look at the players myself, see where they are at, and get a good guideline or gauge as to where they can go and who we need to prolong with, who we need to give specifics to go and do."

"Yes, as you say, you cannot be dependent on one or two players. We have those players who are going to lead the charge, but you also will have to have good backup players who can and will have to step up to the plate. So it's give them that confidence and self-belief and its a work in progress," he said.

"Everybody in the team has a role to play. If everybody fires together, then we are going to become a much better team quicker, but if those (senior) players get good backup and good support as well, they will put us in a good stead."

publive-image One of Walsh's main aims is to help West Indies 'play with a smile' again. © ICC

He added that failure is not something that he will be too worried about, but instead his focus will be on making sure players learn from those mistakes and become better players.

"Sometimes we are afraid to fail, but if you are failing and you get better or are improving, I can live with that. But you can't be making the same mistakes all the time. I won't be afraid of the players making mistakes, I will give them the confidence that we back you to go out and do it, so they can go out and express themselves. Yes, you are going to have bad patches, you are going to have the odd failure here and there, but that consistency and that will to win and that pride of playing for West Indies is what I want to instill and to see us pushing for a World Cup going forward."

Walsh, who worked with the side on an interim basis during the team's home series against Australia and India and then during the World Cup earlier this year, said he is keen to get the team together and start working on skill development with the players. He admitted that the regional structure needs to be improved if they wanted to identify and groom more talent in the years to come.

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"Well obviously the more cricket that you play, the more people in the region that play cricket, the pool is going to be wider. So that's why I emphasise that I think it's important for me to get some camps going in the meantime, so I can look at various players."

"Obviously, CWI would love to have us play the regional tournament for the women, but we don't know what's happening with the pandemic. But in terms of the pool (of players) - I'll have to have a look at the pool as it is now, get my sleeves rolled up and see as much of the players I can if possible before the next competition so I have a good idea about the players that I have and how I'm going to get them ready," he added.

"I would like to see more cricket being played in the region. It needs to be played across the region in a way where it is exposed and the talent is out there - we get a chance to see them, have a look at them and encourage them to play. If we can get more women playing in the region, then obviously that's a big plus for cricket in West Indies for us to have a bigger pool to look at."

"Alternatively, can go scouting and talent hunting and stuff, and do things like that to get the players out. Of course, you want to see them in the match situation, but if that's not going to happen, then we might have to look at taking a core of coaches to different regions and try to see if we can spot any talent."

Walsh will be meeting CWI CEO Johnny Grave and Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams over the next couple of days to decide the course of action moving ahead.