Pakistan series will serve as good preparation ahead of the qualifiers, says West Indies head coach Courtney Walsh

West Indies during a training session. © Cricket West Indies

West Indies head coach Courtney Walsh believes the three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Karachi will serve as perfect preparation for his team going into the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe later this month. West Indies will compete with nine other teams for a top three spot in the tournament to book their place in next year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand.

“This will be a good sort of pre-qualifiers international series [for us] to play,” Walsh said in a pre-series media interaction over Zoom on Tuesday (November 2). “It is very important for us to sort of get some competitive cricket before we get to the qualifiers.”

With several men’s and women’s teams pulling out of their tours to Pakistan in recent times, it was West Indies who were the saviours. Like they did for England in the midst of the pandemic last year, West Indies agreed to a last-minute tour to Pakistan. Walsh quashed any doubts over security concerns, say all “due diligence” was done before Cricket West Indies sanctioned the tour.

“We did all the due diligence, all the involvement of what was required to sanction the tour to make sure that we are okay and we were satisfied with what was put in place and now we are pretty comfortable.”

“We are happy that we are here and we can’t wait to just get some cricket going so we can get competitive. Because I believe that once you get competitive before we get to the qualifiers, that will help us,” he maintained.

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West Indies have travelled to Pakistan with a 15-member squad and three additional reserves. All 18 players will travel to Zimbabwe for the qualifiers, and Walsh is keen that all members of the playing squad get an opportunity to take the field through the three-match series.

“We have 18 players here, 15 will be involved in the qualifiers,” he explained. “We want to get everybody involved here, once that’s possible, so we don’t go into the qualifiers with anybody being short of match practice if ever called upon. It’s a case of trying to get everybody’s feet wet before we get into that competitiveness.”

“We will be trying to come up with the best combination to set us up and running and give us the best chance of winning matches, because at this stage of the game you have to try and win more games than the opposition that you are playing. The more games we win, the [better] our chance for getting through in the qualifiers. Our main aim and objective is to get through the qualifiers, but we will be trying to win this series as well.”

West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor © Cricket West Indies

West Indies will be buoyed by the return of their skipper, Stafanie Taylor. © Cricket West Indies

The tourists’ squad has been strengthened by the return of skipper Stafanie Taylor who missed the series against South Africa in August-September, and wicket-keeper Shemaine Campbelle who returns from injury. Buoyed by their inclusions, Walsh admitted that he would need to now tweak the batting order. The success of young Rashada Williams, who has scored 176 runs at an average of 44 in her first five ODIs, means West Indies have an additional option at the top of the order. The competition for places has the coach excited.

“Rashada came in and she has been very solid for us. We want her to continue in that vein, but keep improving as best as she can.”

“Obviously with Rashada and (Sheneta) Grimmond and (Qiana) Joseph performing, that has strengthened the team in terms of now people competing for space. We have good depth, I think, based on what we have seen over the last couple of series which was very good for us. Once everybody is performing that is a headache I would like to have,” he added.

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“We are hoping that those players who got a chance really realise that if they work hard enough, they can get in. I don’t want people to sit back and say ‘okay, [Stafanie’s] back so I won’t play’. You still want to keep them competing because you still want competition within; that will in turn help us once we play the competition outside.”

Ahead of their departure to Karachi, Walsh had the opportunity to work closely with his squad during a training camp in Antigua. He admitted, the camp provided them with a chance to focus on specific areas of improvement across the board that would help the players in the coming series and the qualifiers later in the month.

“We had good prep in Antigua before we left. So, we were pretty comfortable with that. We are just waiting to get everything going here as well. So, we are in a good space at the moment, so just want to get the games started here. A couple of days coming up with practice and stuff, and once we get those practices under our belt, we get acclimatised we should be in good stead.”

The series will kick off on Monday (November 8) at the National Stadium in Karachi. The next two matches, on November 11 and 14, will also be played at the same venue. Both teams will then travel to Zimbabwe for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers that are scheduled to begin on November 21.