Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Rethink women’s cricket – Bennett

Published:Saturday | October 3, 2020 | 12:10 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
West Indies Women’s senior cricket team.
West Indies Women’s senior cricket team.

Former national cricket coach Junior Bennett says a holistic approach to women’s cricket in the region needs to be implemented urgently to improve the sport at the international level.

Bennett made the comments after the West Indies Women’s team recent 5-0 series whitewash by hosts England in Derby.

While admitting that the pandemic has posed a major problem regarding preparation, Bennett believes a longer-term approach needs to be put in place if the West Indies are to produce good female cricketers and move up the ladder at the international level.

“We need to pay more attention to female cricket at the grass-roots level and do more for the women,” he said. “I believe the same effort should be given to the women as the men’s team because the females are being short-changed.”

Regional women’s teams have had to adapt to short training camps in preparation for tours, and Bennett says that the women’s game cannot develop with that approach.

“We have to find a way to get schoolgirls competitively playing the game,” he said. “Right now, there is no high school cricket for girls. I know there might be an issue with the availability of players, but we can start by playing six-a-side cricket at the preparatory and primary level, and after that, we identify the best talent and keep them in a training programme that sees them playing cricket eight or nine months for the year rather than two months.

At present, school cricket competitions mandate that at least one or two females be part of a school team, but Bennett, who coached the women’s team briefly back in the mid-2000s, says the need is urgent to step away from that concept.

“It would be great if we could get three cricket centres set up across the island for the girls - one in the east, central, and out west, where the girls are getting regular coaching and playing together regularly,” he said.

Bennett, who won five straight titles coaching Jamaica’s senior men’s team between 2007 and 2012 says it is still not all doom and gloom for the West Indies women’s team.

“There have been some positives on the tour, especially in our bowling,” he said. “We start well with the ball in almost all the games, and I believe if we can work on our middle-to-death bowling and be more consistent with the bat, we can win some matches.”