West Indies Cricket: The Next 11 . . .

From Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south, thousands of young players keep cricket alive on our streets, playgrounds, and beaches. Their passion, talent, and joy are what guarantee the continuing success of the game. Dylan Kerrigan, with some expert advice, has assembled a team's worth of gifted youngsters who shone at the 2002 regional under -15- tournament. They and their peers are the future of West Indies cricket

Earven FrederickJamie TrenchfieldJason MohammedJavel HodgeKavesh KantasinghKrishna DeosaranMarcus JulienNicholas SquiresOmar PhillipsRoyce EvansTova NoelZiggy Levy

Whether the team performs magnificently or otherwise, there’s nothing in the world like West Indies cricket.

There was a time when people said it was because we always won, and won handsomely. But even in the darker days of the 1990s, as our team stumbled and tripped and occasionally fell, we still watched on, enthralled by the style, the agility, the strength, and the verve of our boys on the field.

I remember sitting in my claret-coloured Windies hat at Lord’s in London, loud and proud, surrounded by thousands of English fans, while a record number of wickets fell and the West Indies’ cloak of invincibility finally fell away. It hurt, but it didn’t lessen my love for the game.

Winning is important – of course! – but that’s not what really matters to the fans, and it’s not what draws talented young players to the sport. The challenge of becoming a great cricketer requires more than just a passion for winning. It also requires, to put it simply, a sense of joy in being on the field and in the game.

However it’s played – with makeshift bamboo wickets at the beach, on village greens, or at world-famous grounds – cricket in the West Indies is inherently fun, but until recently our young players didn’t have access to the kind of well-supported, well-structured development programme that stimulates technique, physical ability, and mental constitution.

But the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is working to change that, with a new youth development plan aimed at identifying and training the star players of tomorrow – starting with the reintroduction of cricket to the region’s primary schools. Kiddie Cricket, sponsored across the region by Scotiabank, is now played from Jamaica in the north to Trinidad in the south. Modelled after Kwik Cricket in England, and promoted by many Windies stars, Kiddie Cricket introduces the game to young Laras and Sarwans eight to ten years old, using colourful bats, wickets, and balls. For both boys and girls it’s a fun way to develop the basic skills of bowling, batting, and fielding, with a bit of tactical thinking thrown in.

Meanwhile, the Shell Cricket Academy, established in January 2001 as a partnership between the WICB, Shell, and St George’s University in Grenada, targets promising young players who have moved beyond the Under-15 level. It is an important pillar in the regional development plan, giving students the opportunity to further their education, improve their life skills, and develop their cricketing abilities at a crucial time in their lives. And on the administrative side of things, the WICB now boasts a regional talent identification panel, consisting of six territorial development officers administering an “emerging player” database, to keep track of young prospects across the Caribbean archipelago.

Many of these young prospects get to show off their stuff at highly competitive regional youth tournaments, like the Under-15 competition held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2002. These tournaments attract the attention of Windies fans not least because they produce great dismissals, impressive knocks, and the chance to see future stars as they emerge into the limelight. They also suggest a brilliant future for West Indies cricket.

The West Indies senior team boasts exceptionally talented youngsters like Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels, with more on their way up from the national senior squads. After talking to the experts at the WICB and the national cricket associations, we’ve brought together, on the next few pages, 11 exceptional players from the 2002 regional Under-15 tournament. All of them 15 or 16 years old, the young gentlemen in our “next 11″, together with some of their teammates and opponents, could well be breaking into the Windies senior team four years from now – just in time for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, right here in the Caribbean.

Jason Mohammed

  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • DOB: 23 September, 1986
  • Right-hand bat; off spinner
  • Career best: 120 not out vs Windward Islands, 2002 (the current record in the regional Under-15 tournament); 3 for 28 vs Windward Islands, 2002
  • School: Barrackpore Senior Comprehensive
  • Club: Powergen (Under-21 vice captain, and member of the senior team)
  • National: Trinidad and Tobago Under- 13, selected 1999; Trinidad and Tobago Under-15, selected 2000, 2001, 2002; named Under-15 captain in 2002

“My heroes are Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly – I like their shot selection, and the power when they hit the ball. Tendulkar too, for his consistency.”

Kavesh Kantasingh

  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • DOB: 30 September, 1986
  • Left arm orthodox spinner; left hand bat
  • Career best: 5 for 18 vs Barbados, 2002; 4 for 27 vs Jamaica, 2002; joint record-holder for most wickets -13 – in the regional Under-15
  • tournament, 2002
  • School: Presentation College, Chaguanas.
  • National: Trinidad and Tobago Under-15, selected 2001, 2002

 “My ultimate goal is to play for the Windies senior team. First I’d like to improve my skills at the Academy in Antigua.”

Marcus Julien

  • Grenada
  • DOB: 20 December, 1986
  • Right hand bat
  • Career best: 94 vs West Hall School, 2002, 70 not out vs Barbados, 2002, 45 vs Jamaica, 2002
  • School: McCaller College
  • Club: Wanderers
  • National: Windward Islands Under-15, selected 2002

“Watching Brian Lara gave me the courage to play – it made me think I want to be the world’s best opening batsman.”

Krishna Deosaran

  • Guyana
  • DOB: 12 October, 1987
  • Left hand bat; off spinner
  • Career best: 100 vs Enterprise, 2002, 84 vs Essequibo, 2003; Best batsman award in Guyana’s
  • Under-15 East Coast Cricket Association competition, 2002
  • School: Institute of Business Education
  • Club: Demerara
  • National: Guyana Under-15, selected 2002

 “I like Brian Lara because his shot selection is perfect, and Merv Dillon – he could real bowl!”

Royce Evans

  • Guyana
  • DOB: 25 August, 1987
  • Right arm fast bowler; left hand bat
  • Career best:
  • 8 for 34 vs East Bank, 2001;
  • 72 vs East Bank, 2002
  • Club: Demerara
  • National: Guyana Under-15, selected 2000, 2001, 2002

“Playing over in Trinidad, I bowled their captain – he had been hitting everyone to the boundary, and I’m the one who went in there to save the game.”

Nicholas Squires

  • Barbados
  • DOB: 11 March, 1987
  • Left hand bat; wicketkeeper
  • Career best: 130 vs Grantley Adams Secondary School, 2001, 125 vs Foundation School, 2000, 75 not out vs Jamaica, 2002
  • School: The Lodge School
  • Club: Wanderers
  • National: Barbados Under-13, selected 1999; Barbados Under-15, selected 2001, 2002

“I like cricket because you get to meet a lot of people. You learn how to interact with them, and also it helps you to concentrate off the field.”

Omar Phillips

  • Barbados
  • DOB: 12 October, 1986
  • Left hand bat; medium pace leg spinner
  • Career best: 97 vs St James Secondary, 2001, 84 vs Jamaica, 2002; 2 for 16 vs Trinidad and Tobago, 2002
  • School: Coleridge and Parry Secondary
  • Club: Wanderers
  • National: Barbados Under-15, selected 2002

“I love cricket bad! Love to make runs.”

Jamie Trenchfield

  • Jamaica
  • DOB: 23 November, 1987
  • Left hand bat; right arm medium-fast break spinner
  • Career best: 89 not out vs Melbourne, 2001, 69 not out vs Wolmers School, 2003, 50 vs Windward Islands, 2002; 7 for 15 vs Waterford High School, 2003
  • School: Kingston College
  • Club: St Thomas Parish
  • National: Jamaica Under-15, selected 2002

“I try to keep my eyes forward, and when I get a break I do my best.”

Ziggy Levy

  • Jamaica
  • DOB: 10 December, 1987
  • Right hand bat; off spinner
  • Career best: 106 not out vs Jamaica counties “Best of the Rest”, 2002, 64 vs Leeward Islands, 2002
  • School: Holmwood Technical College
  • Club: Middlesex (captain)
  • National: Jamaica Under-15, selected 2002

“Cricket helps me to be a good human.”

Earven Frederick

  • St Lucia
  • DOB: 11 October, 1986
  • Left hand bat; left arm medium-pace bowler
  • Career best: 96 vs Maboy Valley, 2002; 6 for 22 vs Gros Islet, 2002, 3 for 27 vs Guyana, 2002
  • School: Vieux Fort Comprehensive
  • Club: New Park Cricket Club
  • National: Windward Islands Under-15, selected 2000, 2001, 2002

 “I love the way people in the Caribbean take time off to enjoy and study cricket.”

Javal Hodge

  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • DOB: 27 January, 1988
  • Right hand bat; right arm medium-pace bowler
  • Career best: 65 not out vs St Maarten, 2003; 3 for 18 vs Guyana, 2002; St Kitts Junior Cricketer of the Year, 2002; Leewards MVP at the regional Under-15 tournament, 2002
  • School: Sandy Point High School
  • Club: Carib Brewery Len Harris Cricket Academy
  • National: St Kitts Under-19, selected 2000; Leeward Islands Under-15, selected 2001, 2002

“It’s important to have respect in the way you play the game.”

. . .PLUS 1

From its public face, cricket in the West Indies still looks like an old boys’ game. In the stands, from Bourda in Guyana all the way to Sabina Park in Jamaica, women make up a high proportion of the cricket-mad crowds, but the regional and national cricket boards are run by men, male voices still provide almost all the radio and TV commentary for homebound fans, men umpire the matches and tend the near-sacred grounds, and of course West Indies cricket means the regional men’s team. But there’s a West Indies women’s team also, playing for far less fame, far less adulation; a women’s regional tournament, and women’s cricket leagues in most of the islands.

We don’t hear very much about the stars of these teams, tournaments, and leagues, but if the West Indies Women’s Cricket Federation has its way, this may gradually change, through a plan to stimulate girls’ cricket in schools across the region, maintain a feed of younger players into the senior teams, and attract mainstream cricket fans to women’s tournaments.

Across the region, hundreds if not thousands of girls and women play the glorious game with skill, style, and passion. Our look at the future of West Indies cricket would not be complete without taking them into account. Tova Noel is one (particularly talented) name. There are many others.

Tova Noel

  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • DOB: 6 January, 1987
  • Off-break bowler; right hand bat
  • Career best: 3 for 18 vs North East Zone team, 2001
  • School: San Fernando Government Secondary
  • National: Trinidad and Tobago senior women’s team, selected 2002

“I grew up playing cricket with my brother. My dad taught me to bowl, and he told me I could go far if I really wanted. I love the game – I play it because I love it, not for fame or anything else.”

Caribbean Beat would like to thank Dr Michael Seepersaud, Michael Hall, and Clyde Butts of the WICB; Alcina Tilakchand of the Guyana Cricket Board; Colleen Mahy of the Barbados Cricket Association; Ann Brown-John of the West Indies Women’s Cricket Federation; and our 12 young players and their parents and guardians.