Women's cricket will be integrated into the operations of the West Indies board from next year, WICB has announced. Such integration, which follows the merger of the ICC with the IWCC earlier this year, is a massive boost to women's cricket in West Indies, which has been struggling for finance.

Earlier this year, the national team nearly had to pull out of the World Cup in South Africa through lack of finance, but sponsors stepped in at the last minute to fund the trip. In the event, the women performed way beyond expectation, to come fifth and gain automatic qualification for the next tournament.

Such financial worries should now be a thing of the past, as West Indies look to build on their success. A cricket committee for women's cricket has already been established, and has elected Cinda Bobb, Gayle Daniel-Worrell and West Indies coach Ann Browne-John. The committee will look at ways to improve the marketing of the game and to improve standards.

"We are not doing the women any favours," chief cricket development officer Michael Seepersaud told Cricinfo, "merely repaying a debt that is long overdue. But this is a really welcomed development for us in the West Indies. For too long cricket has been a male dominated sport. Women have not only been left out of the game, they have also been largely left out of the administration of the game.

"We have to involve more women in cricket, train female teachers as coaches and encourage more girls to play cricket and generally eliminate gender bias. The process has already begun. Our Kiddy Cricket Program caters for both genders ... Our coaching programs have been extended to female cricketers. We include girls in our development camps.

"This policy ensures that the resources will be available for the development of women's cricket, not as an appendage, but as an integral part of the development of West Indies cricket."

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo