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Armed with bat and the Word

RIA GOODMAN, [email protected]

Armed with bat and the Word

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Besides his cricketing mandate, Andre Fletcher has another significant role he often carries out as a member of the West Indies team.

In the West Indies captain Darren Sammy’s winning speech at the final of the ICC World Twenty20 he referred to Fletcher as the pastor on the team.

Though not a literal pastor, his solid Christian background just may propel him to the position at the end of his cricketing career.

At the moment the 28-year-old right-handed batsman may not be ordained to take on the responsibilities of a church, but he sure is carrying his team in prayer.

“I am a Christian. I grew up in a very strong Christian background. I am a praying person and I have a really strong love for God. I normally say the prayers for the team,” he told SUNSPORT.

After Fletcher sustained a hamstring injury batting against Afghanistan in the final group match at the World Twenty20 and had to be replaced by Trinidadian Lendl Simmons he was asked by his coach and senior players of the team to stay on in India and pray for the team.

His job as a cricketer certainly has its demands, and one of the most crucial ones was his inability to attend church as much as he would like or be involved in many church activities.

However, he revealed whenever he was at home in Grenada he never missed the opportunity to be a part of church.

“I’m not really involved in any activity right now because of my cricket. I’m always out of Grenada. I would be involved in youth ministries and other ministries, but once I’m in my country I visit my church every Sunday or when it is possible. I go and give God thanks and praise,” he said.

The Pentecostal said there may be some things he could leave home without, but along with his cricket bat he never forgot his Bible.

“I always walk with my Bible that’s my sword. Apart from my cricket bat to play cricket I carry my Bible everywhere. That’s my sword for the Lord,” he said.

Fletcher said his presence on the West Indies World Twenty20 squad was an honour, especially since they were successful in bringing home the title.

“It was a great feeling. I remember talking to Sammy and Johnson (Charles) and telling them this was the way they felt when they won in 2012. I was so excited. Everyone was excited. It was a learning experience for me.

“We went to a training camp in Dubai before the World Cup and we played a few practice games which actually helped us boost our confidence. We actually saw the team strengthen because we won the World Cup and it was an honour to be a champion, as DJ Bravo’s song says,” he said with a little chuckle.

He said it was nice to see the Caribbean people smiling once again and he was hoping the team’s success could be extended to One-Day Internationals and Test matches.

Fletcher confessed he was extremely disappointed when he got injured and was unable to play in the semi-final against India or the final against England.

Nonetheless, he said he understood everything happened for a reason.

“I remember being in my room relaxing and my brother told me sometimes whenever disappointments come you just have to give God thanks and praise because it could be worse. I remember posting on Facebook that when something happened it shouldn’t be a case where we tell ourselves we are unlucky,” Fletcher said.

“The devil tries to do things because he knows God has big plans for us. He tries to put distractions in our way, so we have to remind him that our victory is close, so that helped me to boost my confidence.”

Fletcher said though he was not playing he had confidence in the team and also knew Simmons was capable of performing extremely well in his place. He said the West Indies played as a team and he hoped the team spirit would continue.

For him, being able to experience the reception from the Barbadian public when he came into the island was also an honour.

He said just observing the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, ministers and other Barbadians who came to welcome those travelling back from both the women’s and men’s team you could see the joy they felt as a nation.

“Everyone was doing the Champion dance and shouting, and congratulating us,” said Fletcher as his voice reflected the excitement he felt.

He revealed that the day he arrived in Grenada it was a small welcome since many were unaware he was coming home, but the day after he went back to the airport and there was a bigger celebration followed by a motorcade with Digicel and the Grenada Cricket Association last Saturday.

Fletcher’s biggest moment at the World Twenty20 came when he got the opportunity to replace an injured Chris Gayle in the match against Sri Lanka and he responded by scoring 84 to help West Indies to victory.

“I was told I would be opening the match with Johnson Charles. I just continued to be myself. I continued to play positive. And I am so happy I came out not out because it was a very important game,” he said.

One of these days he could be playing a more important role – winning souls instead of winning games.