FORMER West Indies women’s captain Merissa Aguilleira has described as “disappointing” some of the performances in the recent CG United Women’s Super50 and T20 Blaze regional competitions.
Aguilleira was speaking to Newsday on Monday, two days after Barbados completed a sweep of the tournaments in St Kitts.
The ex-West Indies wicketkeeper/batter was an assistant coach for the Red Force Divas, who had mixed results in the competitions. TT were runners-up in the Super50, before finishing in fifth place in the T20 Blaze.
The Divas ended their T20 campaign with an embarrassing one-run loss to Guyana. The Anisa Mohammed-led TT bowled out Guyana for 39, before crashing to 38 all out.
The batting in that match was no anomaly as low scores were prominent throughout the T20 Blaze. No team was able to score at seven runs an over. Only two batters (Qiana Joseph and Kycia Knight) scored over 100 runs for the tournament.
The Super50 batting was no different as only three teams were able to register scores over 200 runs.
Aguilleira, 37, who was named an honorary life member of the Marylebone Cricket Club last month, said the performances were concerning as these were the tournaments being used to select West Indies players.
The regional side has been struggling to replace the void in quality left by Barbadian Deandra Dottin, who retired in August last year; the injury-plagued Jamaican all-rounder Stafanie Taylor; and Mohammed’s decision to take a break from international cricket.
Aguilleira said, “I was really disappointed with the performances throughout the tournament. The wickets were good enough that the teams could have got good scores, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. You can see there is a lot of development (still) to take place.”
Referencing a recent Brian Lara interview discussing the mental aspect of the game, Aguilleira said, “That is exactly what is lacking in the Caribbean right now – the mental part of the game...When it comes to skills, the girls have a lot of talent.”
She called for more development at the grassroots level.“You’re getting players in the under-19 bracket and they still don’t understand the basics of cricket, so that’s a cause for concern.
“If you can get to the grassroots, the secondary schools and primary schools, and teach the basics of cricket, you will get them coming into the system with more knowledge and understanding. Once you develop the players mentally and educate them on the history of cricket...That is an area they need to really focus on.”
Aguilleira say it is not enough to select a team a month before a tournament and try to get them ready.
“The territorial boards need to show more emphasis on women’s cricket and take it more seriously. I know funding is an issue, but when it comes to developing players, you need to give them time. The more you play cricket is the more you will understand.”
She called for a closer relationship with the TT Cricket Board, secondary schools cricket league and the primary schools league.
“Even in secondary schools cricket right now you still have players pelting the ball – not bowling. There is still a breakdown in the development and what you really want to accomplish. Everyone needs to come together because this has to be a collective (approach) to push women’s cricket forward, because we are really far behind.”
She said the West Indies women’s cricket needs to raise its standard because regional games are being streamed online and global eyes are watching. She said the brand right now is not the one the region wants to sell.
She said a lot of work needs to be done behind the scenes to help the current players as they face a lot of distractions, which may affect their performances.
Asked about the standard of club cricket locally, Aguilleira said a higher standard will always augur well for the national set-up. She said she has spoken to national players and urged them to be ambassadors for the game whenever they play for their clubs.
“You have to be a cut above the rest. When you go to see a club game you must identify a national player – and not not on the field but off the field as well.”
Aguilleira believes new Cricket West Indies (CWI) boss Dr Kishore Shallow has women’s cricket’s best interest at heart.
“He understands what is happening to women’s cricket and the emphasis that needs to be shown. I know CWI has women’s cricket on the front burner right now, so that is a positive.”