Courtney Walsh sat down and reflected on the West Indies Women’s campaign at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, in New Zealand. A legend of the game, one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, Walsh has been the chief architect of the team’s growth and development in the last 2 ½ years – in the build-up to the marquee global event. His one thought on the team’s performance is that he is “proud” of what they achieved.
Ahead of the trip to New Zealand, West Indies were seen as “underdogs” and few observers gave them a change of making the final four. They had to do it the hard way – via the qualifiers tournament in Zimbabwe – and then they had to overcome some of the top-flight teams to make it through to the play-off stage.
They had a brilliant start with a sensational win over New Zealand on the opening day and then toppled defending champs England in the next match in another thriller. This was part of their “box office” preliminary round and that was the impetus for them to push through to the semis. From the first ball the energy in the team was obvious and this was matched by some dynamism and athleticism on the field.
“It was a good tournament, I felt there was some very good cricket played by all the teams involved, with some very exciting games. I think the ICC and women’s cricket in general should be very proud the way the tournament went, and the competitiveness demonstrated,” Walsh said.
“From a West Indies point of view, I’m particularly pleased we made it to the semi-finals. Coming here, if anyone said we would have made it (to semi-finals) I would have taken that. The girls showed a lot of fight to get us into the semifinals and I’m happy for them and happy for West Indies cricket. I would say it was a good campaign for us. I know the results probably didn’t look that way in a couple of the games, but the tournament overall, and what we achieved is something that everyone involved should be proud of.”
There were several memorable moments for the #MaroonWarriors, which will be remembered for a long time. On the opening day, Deandra Dottin stunned the hosts when she produced a memorable last over which included two wickets and a run out. Earlier on that day Hayley Matthews made a career-defining 119 to take the Player-of-the-Match award.
Next up against England, it was wicket-keeper Shemaine Campbelle who showed her immense skills with a match-winning 66 as the West Indies won by seven runs, with the help of some clever bowling by Anisa Mohammed, as she became just the fourth bowler in women’s history to take 300 international wickets. Campbelle and Matthews featured again in the four-run win over Bangladesh – the keeper made a face-saving 53 not out while the allrounder took 4-15.
“It was good to see persons putting their hands up and standing up for the team. We saw individuals growing as players on and off the field and we want to see even more of that moving forward. To come through the qualifiers and them go on to make it to the semi-finals is a great achievement … It is a very big statement. Hopefully we don’t have to go through the qualifies again as that was not an easy task. It has been very pleasing for me and for the other coaches and members of the team and the way we carried out our duties,” Walsh said.
“Yes, I know a few questions will be asked, and some people will be disappointed (didn’t make the final), but overall it was good to see improvements being made by everyone,” Walsh said. “When I first got the job the ide as for us to start moving up the table (ICC rankings) and at the end of this prestigious competition we have moved up the table so that’s something to be pleased about … it’s a work in progress.”-CWI