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West Indies take cautious approach to Deandra Dottin's bowling comeback

Deandra Dottin throws the ball in during training Getty Images

West Indies are taking a cautious approach to Deandra Dottin's bowling return as she continues her comeback from a serious shoulder injury.

Andre Coley, West Indies women's interim head coach, has revealed that Dottin, who is yet to bowl in the T20I series against England and sent down just two overs in the tourists' two intra-squad warm-up matches, only began a "back-to-bowling" training programme after arriving in England on August 31.

"She's recovered from injury," Coley said. "It's no secret that our players haven't been able to do much for a very long time and Deandra is on a back-to-bowling programme, she started that while she was here so she's still on that. We need to make sure that she's 100 percent to be able to go on competitively.

"She has been doing bowling work behind the scenes, during training, and we are comfortable in terms of where she's at, but we want to make sure that long-term she's okay and she can actually bowl at the intensity that she wants consistently and not just for a game or two games.

"We are we are happy that healing is there, it is really now just getting her back into bowling, making sure that her lines are good and she's actually 100 percent to bowl."

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West Indies' hastily arranged tour of England came after India and South Africa cancelled their planned series in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time West Indies' players had undergone limited preparation compared to England, who returned to individual training in June in the expectation of hosting some international cricket during their summer.

Dottin missed a year of international cricket from February 2019 and underwent surgery on her right, bowling, shoulder in June of that year. She made her top-level return at the T20 World Cup earlier this year, where she did not bowl.

She could be seen with her shoulder wrapped in ice packs in the dugout after batting in West Indies' 47-run loss to England on Wednesday evening, the second time in their five-match series that the tourists have been defeated by that margin. But Coley said icing the shoulder was about preventing any further injury.

"She's fine as far as I'm aware," he said. "She's returning from an injury which had her off from competitive cricket for a while so anything that you would have seen around shoulder stuff would have been just pre-habbing, making sure that we're managing. There's no injuries around the shoulder at the moment."

It could be argued that West Indies have missed Dottin's bowling so far this series when they struggled to contain England opener Tammy Beaumont in the first match and failed to clean up the England tail in the second.

But Dottin has done her part with the bat - her 69 in the first match was the best by any batter from either side, albeit in a losing cause, and she was the pick of the West Indies line-up again with her 38 in the second.

Dottin's performances with the bat have highlighted a key problem for West Indies though, an over-reliance on Dottin and captain Stafanie Taylor at the top of the order. It means that if neither them nor Hayley Matthews, who has had a lean series so far with twin scores of just 3, are able to bat deep, their chances fall away rapidly.

"Contributions, we have discussed it, since we have been here we have done work around it," Coley said. "We have to be realistic about our resources. Our main batters basically are at the top. We have young players who have potential but obviously still need to continue to grow and improve. It's really about how they can actually support the top-order batters. It's got to be key in our side.

"If a couple of players from the top five actually bat very deep, and in the event that we need the lower-order batting then they'll have to support, but because of the lack of depth in the lower order, unfortunately our reality is that the bulk of the scoring is really left with about three or four players."

England can clinch an unassailable 3-0 series lead with victory in the next match on Saturday.