ONE REGIONAL MANAGER wants a more youthful look for West Indies cricket come the New Year.
Local sports administrator Adrian Donovan believes that the regional board is desperately suffering from the lack of a structured under-13 programme and is calling for the amendment to the current West Indies junior set-up as early as 2011.
Barbados’ long-serving manager to the under-13 cricket squad made the comments following his team’s recent tour of Trinidad and Tobago for the annual Malcolm Marshall/Inshan Ali series.
“It is a given fact that one cannot start building a house from the kitchen or the patio,” said Donovan in an interview with SUNSPORT.
“At present our structure starts from the under-15 level and goes up but this is a little too late in the area of development. At this age we find that boys have already picked up bad habits, and after the under-13 level if they are not pushed they tend to drift off to other activities.
“Sometimes they stop playing sports altogether unless they are encouraged,” he added.
Under the current setup, there isn’t even a regional competition at the under-13 level, with the CLICO West Indies under-15 tournament in Easter serving as the youngest age-group cricket competition in the Caribbean.
However, St Kitts has hosted an invitational age-group tournament at that level for the last 14 years, where Barbados have won seven of the last eight summer festivals.
But this is without some of the “big-name” territories like Jamaica and Guyana, both of whom only play softball cricket at the primary school level.
“Each affiliate member of the WICB should be mandated to have an under-13 programme which would lead to an annual regional competition,” said Donovan of the proposed structure.
“We must do this because kids at this age are easily distracted; they usually follow their friends and we are in an age now where we are competing against technology. Many prefer to remain at home behind the computer, share a laptop with a friend or to go to functions and play PS3s.
“Every year we in the West Indies are losing many of our young promising cricketers.”
And they in turn are missing a chance to represent their region from a young age, reasons Donovan, who believes that a select Under-13 squad would defeat any other from the major
“Sometimes the opportunity only knocks once,” said Donovan while playfully naming this 16-man team.
“It is really unfair that when we select a possible 16 of the past season that they will be denied an opportunity to wear West Indies colours.”
In Donovan’s “mock” selection, Barbados captain and opener Lee Gaskin would lead the side with fellow Bajans Akil Greenidge, Camarie Boyce and Dominic Drakes.
The seasoned manager has likened Nevisian pacer Colin Archibald to legend Curtly Ambrose, while saying that Stuart Williams’ son Saeed is one of the most compact he has seen at that level.