Victory by the young West Indies squad in the recently concluded ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup brought not only relief, but unmitigated joy to the West Indian cricket fan who has suffered day after day, series after series, quarrel after quarrel, as those representing us, either on the field or off the field, appear to strive valiantly to make the game of cricket relevant only to those who are interested in the scores in a match. The following day, therefore, the red carpet treatment arranged by grateful fans to the returning conquerors was welcomed. However, the joy of the real cricket fan was tempered by the bizarre rush to claim responsibility for the victory by the much pilloried president of the West Indies Cricket Board, Mr Dave Cameron. As is now usual, Mr Cameron congratulated himself and the board for the “preparation” of the team before they reached Bangladesh, conveniently forgetting that the successful coach of the team, on his arrival in Bangladesh, bemoaned the lack of match preparation of the team before their arrival in the venue of the World Cup. COACH’S COMPLAINT The veracity of the coach’s complaint was revealed by the fact that our young heroes lost their three warm-up games against the host nation and also lost their opening game against England. After a start like that and the ensuing media firestorm after the win against Zimbabwe, the resilience and character shown by the team, and to no small extent, the coach and the experienced staff that accompanied the team, is one of the reasons the West Indies triumphed. It has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Cameron and his fellow executives, who are determined to stay in charge of West Indies cricket against the wishes of some fans, some prime ministers, and some of the ordinary citizens of this region. That cut like a knife when his self congratulatory statement was heard. Every fan and student of the game now recognises the importance of keeping this group of cricketers together, while continuously exposing them to superior skills. The call to “do a South Africa” and include fast bowling sensation Alzarri Joseph into the senior squad in time for the June series of international matches – as was done by South Africa after their triumph in the last World Cup on the back of their fast bowler, Kagisi Rabada – has been initiated by Tony Cozier, a noted West Indian scribe and cricket guru. This call is reasonable and makes excellent cricketing sense, but the implementation of this suggestion has to be ratified by a group of men (the selectors). Previous groups of young West Indians have been neglected, and as a consequence, they are out of the sport. As long as this board remains in charge, I do fear that the same neglect will follow, no matter what the president says now.
Melbourne, batting a second time, ended on 82 for three. “It was a hard-fought game, but I thought we did enough in the first innings. Posting a massive total, 420 in any cricket is a lot of runs, moreso in Senior Cup. “Hats off to John-Ross Campbell, who batted well for his century, as well as Elliot, as it was a very difficult wicket to bowl on.” Resuming on 61 for one with lead batsmen Rashed Outar not out on 12 and opener Joseph Palmer, 21, the JDF started positively by moving to the 100 mark for the loss of no further wicket. However, with the loss of Outar on the same score, the soldiers went on to lose quick wickets, handing the initiative to Melbourne with the score on 131 for eight. Bulli, who hit 11 fours and six sixes, thereafter entered the fray and along with Palmer, they put on a threatening ninth-wicket stand of 180 before the latter was caught for 89 with the score on 301. Melbourne immediately thereafter wrapped up the encounter. “We dropped too much catches in the first innings and it cost us in the end,” stated JDF captain Damion Grey. “To get 400-and-odd is really a tough chase, but I thought Bulli played a gem of innings.” The other quarter-final on the weekend, in the meanwhile, saw St Thomas CA on the back of a nine-wicket match haul from Jamaica fast bowler Keno Wallace, recording a come-from-behind 130 runs win over St Ann CA at Goodyear Oval. St Thomas made 202 and 266 to which St Ann replied with 226 and 112. Wallace claimed five for 18 in the first innings and four for 39 in the second. Difficult wicket A six-wicket haul from returning national off-spinner Yannick Elliott guided Melbourne CC to first-innings honours over two-time champions Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and a semi-final place after their Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) quarter-final match-up at Up Park Camp. Elliott, who three seasons ago suffered a heart attack and made a return at the start of the season, claimed six for 30, as the JDF, chasing Melbourne’s challenging first innings total of 423 for seven declared, were dismissed for 309. National left-arm wrist spinner Dennis Bulli, with a well-composed knock of 118 not out, led the way for the army men, who, in surrendering first, also relinquished the title.