In her press conference before their opening game of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor, languid as ever, said her team were aiming to score above 200. She also said they don’t care too much for analytics and match-ups.

Which, given how the sport is progressing, seemed decidedly underwhelming.

It took five boundary-filled overs with the bat to put that first assertion to waste. And about five overs of bowling to smartly set fields to challenge the second one.   

Well bluffed, Stafanie.

In their opening win against New Zealand, former 20-over champions West Indies showed an awareness their 50-over was missing until recently. Could it be here to stay for the rest of the tournament?

West Indies women's cricket team celebrating a wicket in their ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022 game against New Zealand. Photo: ICC
Where did things change for the West Indies women’s cricket team in ODIs? Photo: ICC

A week ago I was wondering if I dared stick my neck out and name them as an outside shot at a top four finish. After the opening day, I’d feel less absurd doing so.

A year ago, though, I’d have called myself a fool to pick them as semi-finalists.

Since their run to the ODI final in 2013 and the T20 title in 2016, West Indies have been abject in the 50-over format. Their 2017 World Cup was terrible. Their post-2017 years were as bad. Batters were urged to be patient, but they rarely were. They made poor decisions in the name of Caribbean flair. It didn’t help that domestic competitions in the West Indies nations have been sporadic.  

“For a period of time we were stuck in 50-over cricket, not progressing as much as we wanted to,” admitted Hayley Matthews to the ICC ahead of their first match. “But I do believe in the last year or so we’ve made massive leaps and bounds.”

So where did things change? I don’t know.

Taylor hasn’t been particularly loquacious with details in her press interactions. She’s praised the coaching staff led by Courtney Walsh over and over, but in rather general terms. She’s spoken of them having a “huge” impact in putting the team in a “good space” and “avoiding bad habits”. But there’s been little said about what exactly those tweaks have been, what those plans and lessons are, which have made them more consistent.

A visible change has been to their batting and bowling line-ups. The big-hitting Deandra Dottin opening and Matthews moving to the middle order, where her strike-rate last year was slightly better than when opening, have been key to their stability. With the changes, the batting seems stronger. (Although for her match-winning World Cup knock, an injury to the regular opener meant Matthews was back as opener; so much for that theory.)

They seem to circle through their bowlers too in phases, with Chinelle Henry coming in and taking the new ball more. Perhaps this means there is better clarity of roles throughout?  

And the results are visible. In 2018-19, West Indies won just three of their 18 ODIs. But in 2021, they won more matches (8) than they lost (6). (They didn’t play ODIs in 2020.) All of Deandra Dottin, Taylor and Matthews have two centuries each since 2021. Four other batters have fifties, showing a depth beyond the big three.

Krissania Young, who knows the West Indies much better than I can ever claim, has an informative post where she breaks down an improvement in their dot ball percentages and bowling lines as well.

I’d love to hear more theories for this turnaround – and I think we can now safely call it one. Why that is, and if that’s here to stay is something we’ll probably learn through the tournament.  

“The team’s in a good space,” said Matthews after the win, again unhelpfully vague. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

Taylor, meanwhile, after the match, continued to underplay their chances. “We talked about how we need to be over 200 if we want to be competitive,” she repeated. “We like to stay under the radar, do our thing, one step at a time.”

I’m not sticking my neck out and saying “top four” yet for West Indies. But I’d love to see them do their thing.


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