From left: Stafanie Taylor (c), Deandra Dottin, Anisa Mohammed, Hayley Matthews: Probable architects of West Indies   s World Cup journey    Getty Images
From left: Stafanie Taylor (c), Deandra Dottin, Anisa Mohammed, Hayley Matthews: Probable architects of West Indies s World Cup journey Getty Images

West Indies Women have included as many as four uncapped players in their 15-member squad for the 2017 ICC Women s World Cup in England. Wicketkeeper-batter Reniece Boyce, left-arm seamer Quiana Joseph, all-rounder Akeira Peters, and right-hand opening batter Felicia Walters will join the team for the first time. They have replaced Britney Cooper, Shemaine Campbelle, and Tremayne Smartt as well as Shaquana Quintyne, who was ruled out due to an abdominal injury. All-rounder Shanel Daley is the 15th member of the squad and returns to the international circuit after close to two-and-a-half years.

Stafanie Taylor, who led West Indies to their maiden world title in the Women s World T20 in 2016, has been retained as skipper. Alongside Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews, she will play a crucial role in her team s performances with both bat and ball.

They will be supported with the bat by Kyshona Knight, Merissa Aguilleira, Chedean Nation, Walters and Boyce. Aguilleira, captain of the team that reached the World Cup final in 2013, will be an extremely crucial member of the middle order. She has the ability to keep the scoreboard constantly moving and the knack of finding the boundary when most needed.

Shamilia Connell, Shakera Selman and Joseph are the fast bowlers in the squad. Connell s pace, Selman s movement, Dottin s accuracy and the death and Daley s variations will give West Indies plenty of seam options in England.

Off-spinner Anisa Mohammed, one of the world s best bowlers, is likely to play a crucial role in her team s campaign. Not a big turner of the ball, Mohammed uses variations in pace and angles to outwit the batters. She will be supported by leg-spinner Afy Fletcher and the all-round off-spin triad of Taylor, Matthews and Peters.

Previous World Cups

Since their first appearance in the 50-over World Cup in 1993, West Indies have featured in five World Cups (1993, 1997, 2005, 2009 and 2013), missing only the seventh edition of the tournament held in New Zealand in 2000.

After a demoralising 105-run loss to India in their opening match of the 2013 World Cup, West Indies trounced Sri Lanka by 209 runs to reach the Super Sixes. Once there, Aguilleira s team won all three of their games, beating South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, to qualify for the final. Although they stumbled at the final hurdle, losing to Australia by 114 runs, West Indies had announced themselves on the international stage.

Recent form

West Indies have not played any international cricket since their tour of India in November last year. They lost the ODI series 0-3 but managed to secure a 3-0 win in the T20I series. Since then Taylor s troops have played in their domestic competition, taken part in a training camp in Bridgetown, and played a couple of unofficial practice matches in England.

While the team may not have much game-time under their belts, the chance to spend three weeks in England and acclimatize to the conditions could work in their favour.

Strengths

Much like their male counterparts, the West Indies Women too are known for their fierce power with bat and athleticism in the field. In Dottin, Taylor and Matthews they have three of the cleanest hitters in world cricket. The three combined have hit 689 boundaries and 82 sixes.

In the field too, they are quick and agile throwing themselves around constantly to save runs.

Key Players

In 2013, Stafanie Taylor became the first cricketer, male or female, to simultaneously hold the No. 1 spot in the ICC Women s ODI rankings in the list of batters and bowlers. She is West Indies highest run-scorer in ODIs with 3,732 runs, and their second highest wicket taker (114 wickets) behind Mohammed.

Taylor is known for her fierce determination and ability to accumulate runs quickly. At only 19, she became the youngest woman to score 1,000 runs in ODIs. Once she settles down, she is hard to dislodge. She plays the fast bowlers with ease, getting into position early to either defend or attack, and showcases her power against the spinners.

While her batting is her main weapon, Taylor s bowling is equally potent. She may not always be the most accurate, but has the knack of picking up wickets.

Having taken over the captaincy in 2015, Taylor has enjoyed a fruitful period with the bat scoring 617 runs in 14 ODIs at an average of 51.41. The added responsibility has brought the best out of her, as she picked up the Player of the Tournament award in West Indies 2016 World T20 victory with 246 runs and 8 wickets.

Her record in World Cups alone is quite impressive. In 14 matches, Taylor has amassed 509 runs, with a high score of 171 against Sri Lanka, and taken 17 wickets.

Deandra Dottin came into the global eye when she smashed a 38-ball century against South Africa in a World T20 match in 2010. Since then the burly all-rounder has continued to assert herself as one of the biggest and cleanest strikers of the ball in the women s game. In 98 ODIs, Dottin has scored 2,337 runs at an average of 27.82 and a strike rate of 77. Her run tally includes 232 fours and 63 sixes 55.88% of her career runs.

Aside from her aggressive batting, Dottin s contribution with the ball will be more important in her team s campaign. She is genuinely quick, gets the ball to skid off the surface and is most effective at the death. Her lethal yorkers were key to West Indies 2016 World T20 triumph.

One to Watch

Hayley Matthews announced herself to the world with a fluent 55 on ODI debut against Australia in 2014. Aged only 16, the right-hand opener went on to score 241 runs in the four match ODI series. She was touted as the next big thing.

Over the next few years, Matthews showed signs of brilliance in between rather ordinary outings with the bat. In 23 ODIs, she has accumulated 570 runs at an average of 24.78 including 4 half-centuries.

Her most important innings yet, came in the 2016 World T20 final against Australia in Eden Gardens. Matthews smashed the Australian bowlers around the ground, scoring a rapid 45-ball 66 to power West Indies to the title. She batted with typical West Indian flare incredible bat speed and ferocious power. The time she had to play the ball, and her massive straight hits were the standout of that innings.

With three years of international experience under her belt, Matthews has grown into one of West Indies best young players. While she may not have yet reached the levels of Taylor and Dottin, most teams know that she is a dangerous player one who can win a match on her own with both bat and ball.

Expectations

Runners-up in the previous edition of the World Cup and winners of the 2016 World T20, West Indies will be hoping to make a mark on this tournament as well. Having spent three weeks getting used to the conditions in England, by the time the tournament proper begins, Taylor s team will certainly fancy their chances.

Although ODIs have not been their best format in recent times, they certainly have the ability within their squad to put up some special performances.

While a place in the top 4 is certainly within their reach, whether they can push beyond that will depend a great deal on the all-round performances of Taylor and Dottin.

We have an exciting line-up of players with a balance of established players, a couple of returnees and a group of new faces, said Vasbert Drakes, West Indies head coach. I think everyone is in a really good head space and if we can continue in that manner, we can do something special.

Squad: Stafanie Taylor (c), Merissa Aguilleira (wk), Reniece Boyce, Shamilia Connell, Shanel Daley, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Qiana Joseph, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Akeira Peters, Shakera Selman, Felicia Walters.

West Indies s fixtures:

June 26: v Australia, Taunton

June 29: v India, Taunton

July 2: v South Africa, Leicester

July 6: v New Zealand, Taunton

July 9: v Sri Lanka, Derby

July 11: v Pakistan, Leicester

July 15: v England, Bristol