One of Walsh’s primary jobs is to use his clout as a great of the game to open doors with politicians on islands where schools and regional girls’ cricket is non-existent. You cannot deny his passion for cricket in the Caribbean remains as strong as ever, 36 years on from his Test debut.
“I always want to be involved in West Indies cricket,” he told Telegraph Sport. “I had a short stint with the ladies last year and I really enjoyed it and I just think I can help in some way. The standard is not where we would like it to be so that is what we need to work out first. We want the regionals and the territories playing more. There were talks about that before the pandemic came along but we will explore those areas. We want to focus on bringing through young talent, expand the pool and improve the players we have got.
“There is a challenge because of other sports. You only need one football and a load of people can play, in athletics you can just go running on your own or to the track with a coach but cricket is more technical and you have to have a lot of equipment so it is a challenge. But it is still a popular sport and if we can get our current stars to excel then we have role models for the youngsters.
“There is no schools tournament and we want to see how we can get it in schools so we can spot kids at an early age. I see my role to work alongside the board to promote women’s cricket in schools and clubs so we can go and have talent hunts, develop players for the betterment of West Indies cricket.”
West Indies were recently thrashed 5-0 by England and the game is dominated by Australia who this week equalled the record of Ricky Ponting’s team by winning 21 matches in a row. Australia are reaping the benefit of seven years of professional contracts while in England £20 million was pledged in 2019 to women’s cricket over the next two years on top of funding for the national side.
The pandemic has hit all budgets but Ian Watmore, the new chairman of the ECB, is putting the women’s game at the heart of his strategy, a decision boosted by record viewing figures for England’s series against West Indies. Watmore championed women’s football when he was at the FA in 2010-12 against what he describes as “outright misogynistic hostility”. Last year a crowd of 77,000 watched England women play Germany.
Grave estimates that around 50 per cent of crowds in the Caribbean are women and he says there are more women than men employed by Cricket West Indies in off-field roles, but at grass roots money is very tight and there is a very male dominated club scene with few facilities for women. West Indies have declined since winning the Twenty20 World Cup in 2016 and the 5-0 hammering by England and the gulf between the top three richest sides and the rest is widening, a worrying signal for the men’s game too.
Walsh will be using his contacts and hopes his old new ball partner Curtly Ambrose will help out at training camps to be based on his home island of Antigua. Covid has put fixtures on hold and training camps are all that is planned at the moment where Walsh knows he will have to change his style slightly.
“I’ve never been a dictator as a coach but you have to remember you are in a female world so there is stuff you have to do differently,” he says. “I have to be more adaptable so if the nets are not as good as you want you might have to tone it down and not bowl as hard as you do to the men. It is subtle changes like those.”
Subtle changes in the nets but big changes off the field are the challenge for Walsh.