ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Head coach Courtney Walsh said Friday he had no misgivings about blooding young players at international level once they merited selection, as he reiterated the importance of developing new talent with the crucial World Cup Qualifiers at year-end.
Selectors this week announced eight uncapped players – including two 16-year-olds – in a 30-member training squad for a month-long high performance camp which gets underway this weekend.
Walsh, a former West Indies captain, said the current core group of experienced players provided the ideal environment for the introduction of these young players.
“I would not throw a young player into international cricket if they were not going to be able to cope, but I have nothing against playing a youngster who has the talent, the skill-set can perform at that level,” said the legendary fast bowler who snatched a record 519 wickets from 132 Tests.
“I will definitely expose them to that level, and it will be a good thing to expose them when you have senior players such as the captain [Stafanie Taylor], Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews around.
“If you have all of those senior players around and you have a youngster that is good enough and has the potential to have an extended career, this is probably the best time to get them going.
“Once that person is up there, I have no issues of giving them that role.”
Teenaged fast bowlers, St Lucian Zaida James and Vincentian Jannillea Glasgow, were named in the training group, as Cricket West Indies continued their efforts to expand the talent pool.
Japhina Joseph, Rashada Williams, Caneisha Isaac, Shanika Bruce, Mandy Mangru and Rachel Vincent – all without international experience – are all set to to feature in the camp, the second of the year as West Indies prepare for the ICC qualifiers in Sri Lanka which determine the last three spots at next year’s 50-over World Cup.
Walsh said while the first camp in January was used to assess players, and gauge and improve their fitness, the upcoming camp would be focussing mainly on consistency and game-awareness.
“At the [earlier] camp, I had not seen them (players) before so it was more or less an assessment camp,” Walsh explained.
“And I think it was very successful in identifying where the players were and having an idea of what we needed to do and can do, and how we were going about it.
“For this camp coming up now, I am using two themes – consistency and game awareness. I am going to try to get them to be more consistent in every department of the game, on and off the field, and awareness in terms of individual awareness, team awareness and game awareness.”
Walsh is hoping to turn around the team’s current slump that has seen them fail to win any of their last six One-Day International series and lose 14 of their last 17 matches.
Individual performances have also declined with only the likes of Taylor, who averaged 42 in the last three years up to the last ODI in 2019, and Deandra Dottin who averaged 31, scoring consistently.
“It is not that we will not do any stuff to improve the skill-sets, but these two areas are very important,” Walsh continued.
“Consistency cannot be only three players. We need consistency. If you are playing six batsmen, not everybody will come off all the time, but you need four or five players consistently producing.
“You cannot have the same three players performing all of the time, so that will be an area that we will be focussing on, and every player in the team must be able to perform at a consistent level and must be aware of the game situation.”