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O’Neal knocks UWI scheme


Philip Hackett

O’Neal knocks UWI scheme

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Cricket?and academics can be successfully combined even outside of the sports programme run by the University of the West Indies (UWI).
That’s the view of Don O’Neal, the all-rounder who plays for CGI Sandy Crest Maple, champions in the Sagicor General Twenty20 Competition that ended recently.
O’Neal ended the season with a brilliant individual performance that earned him the Man-Of-The Match award in the final against ICBL Empire at Kensington Oval.
His four-wicket haul was instrumental in triggering a dramatic Empire collapse as Maple became just the first team to win the title twice.
O’Neal is currently in his final year of studies at UWI where he is completing a double major in economics and accounts.
Like many who have tried to pursue a cricket career while beating the books, he has found the process challenging, but has no regrets about maintaining his connection with Maple despite being eligible for the cricket programme based at the Cave Hill Campus.
“Studying at UWI and trying to beat the books and concentrating on cricket is pretty hard.
‘I had started at UWI with their scholarships and stuff but I have moved on,” O’Neal told MIDWEEK?SPORT as he reflected on a successful season for Maple in winning the T20 crown and finishing second in the LIME Division One Competition.
The 33-year-old said he wasn’t happy with the composition of the UWI?team.
“I didn’t like some of the stuff they were doing. It seems to me that they don’t focus on UWI students as much.
“We have a lot of good players up there but then you hear of other fellows who just register for courses and then they are on the team,” he said.
The off-spinner, who started playing cricket as a batsman, believes the UWI situation is not what it should be for a player who is trying to improve his cricket while continuing to study.
“It’s supposed to be academics and cricket. Some guys [are] just doing a little course and they [are] getting all the praise,” O’Neal said.
“The cricket programme at UWI is a bit tough for some guys. I think some guys get really hard deals with the programme up there.
“I had some pretty rough times being involved with it. I took my mind off of it the way it was set up and stuff,” added O’Neal, who represented UWI? when they were first admitted to the Division One competition.
The all-rounder admitted he has concentrated more on his bowling because of limited opportunities for practice at Maple but looks forward to returning to his batting role when he completes his studies.
“I want to come back and work on my batting to prove to some of my teammates that I’ve still got it. They think I have lost it but I don’t think so, it’s just a lack of practice.”

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