Commentator Stacy-Ann King sums up West Indies’ cricket performance in the Women’s World Cup

Deandra Dottin – spectacular in the field

Reviewed by Clayton Goodwin

“Oh dear!” commentator Stacy-Ann King’s cri de coeur at lapses in the play became the watchword of the West Indies cricket team in the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. It was that dire and disappointing. Even a life-line thrown through India’s defeat by South Africa which allowed the West Indians to progress into the semi-finals, where they were devastated by eventful champions Australia, could not lift the gloom and sense of anti-climax. The trouble was that the team had flattered too much in the opening exchanges. Expectations were raised high and then dashed. There were just a few pearls of excellence left as a memento of what might have been.

It had all started well with highly commendable victories over hosts New Zealand and defending champions England. The entertaining first-wicket batting partnership of Hayley Matthews and Deandra Dottin promised to become the star act of the championship. Matthews’ stroke-play was artistic, graceful and commanding – I was reminded of Tom Graveney of yesteryear – and Dottin provided her expected punch and innovation. It didn’t end there. Hayley was outstanding, too, in the bowling attack and Deandra’s spectacular fielding lit up the play. One of her catches was the star moment of this or any tournament.

Their brilliance hid the fact that the performance of most of their colleagues fell well below expectations. The middle-batting, in particular, was woeful, and when Matthews and Dottin ceased to command West Indies ceased to impress. The sole other victory, over lowly Bangladesh, was achieved only after the lower-order batting and the bowlers had broken free from the strait-jacket imposed on the scoring by the accurate opposing attack. The low point was reached in the defeat by Pakistan, the weakest of the eight teams, in a match abbreviated by the weather. Most of the defeats were not even close, or even challenging. There were at the most three competent teams, and West Indies were not one of them.

Recollection of the sparkle of Hayley Matthews and Deandra Dottin, and the enthusiasm of the players (especially on seeing that India’s failure had let them into the semi-finals), will glisten long after more mundane statistics are forgotten. Captain Stafanie Taylor recovered somewhat after a painful start in which she was frustrated and beaten around the off-stump. Though individually enterprising, West Indies failed too often to get a grip on the game when it mattered. After all, Australia’s triumph was surely pre-ordained – they played as if the trophy was theirs by right.

West Indies, however, did provide the most charismatic commentator with the most aptly memorable catch-phrase, even if it was ….

“Oh, dear!”

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