The Manager of the Windward Islands Under-17 cricket team, is quite pleased with the performances of the sub-regional team.
The first six years of the team’s participation in the regional tournament saw the Windward Islands placing between first and third in the final standings. In 2015 the team won the title, after being edged out in 2014 by a fraction of a point from winning the title, and placed third in 2013.
“Those first years we did exceptionally well, but the last two years the team placed fifth,” Holder reminisced.
The separation of the islands by sea is a hurdle which seriously hampered the team cohesiveness and development, Holder pointed out.
However he said that many initiatives were taken to overcome this difficulty “because we always up to last year, were able to organise a 3 or 4 day camp. The camp was very significant because it allowed the coach and players to develop the necessary bonding.
“It was also used to established boundaries, plan strategies on and off the field, and develop basic understanding of the operations for the team unit.”
Further according to the sub-regional team manager “The training camp was very important as it allowed the coach and players to earn each other’s trust, and for the coach to have the players buying into his philosophy. Unlike this year, it was different going straight into a tournament, and we had no opportunity to train.”
This was further compounded by the absence of a training venue. In the past, a training venue was allocated to teams, but in 2019, no such facility was made availability, except the teams making use of the Couva Playing Field.
Another initiative to help overcome any shortcomings, was the setting up of a group chat-room which was done for the last 4 years. He said that the results were positive, as the chat-room “allowed the players to interact with each other and the team’s management. It also assisted the coach to pass on hints and suggestions to the individual players towards improving their game.”
Administratively, the chat-room proved to be of immense help to the manager as he was able take care of many issues brought abut by the separation of the islands. The chat-room also contributed significantly towards lessening any negative impact on player interaction with each other.
Holder who has been the manager since the inception of the tournament in 2012 till the present, said that he have not encountered any significant problems when dealing with the players, who originate from different backgrounds. One contributing factor is that he has known the players since they would have come through the Windward Islands Under-15 cricket tournament.
Holder also reflected on the many outstanding Windward Islands players, who played in the Regional Under-17 cricket tournament, for “they have all left an impression.”
Gidron Pope played a significant role in the West Indies winning the 2016 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and was selected selected unto the World XI following the tournament.
“Gidron Pope created a stir at the Regional Under-17 tournament which at that time was played in Tobago. No one was surprised that he went on to represent the West Indies at the Under-19 World Cup. It is just unfortunate that he has lost his way somewhat.”
Roland Cato, Keon George, and Ryan John were also part of the West Indies Under-19 World Cup squad.
There were also Preston Maxswine, Johan Jeremiah, and Emmanuel Stewart who went on to skipper the West Indies team in the last Under-19 World Cup.
Daryl Cyrus, Kian Benjamin, Alick Athanaze who scored two centuries in the recent Under-19 Cricket World Cup; Kaveem Hodge, Daniel Dupiny, and Kimani Melius.
Holder noted that Melius have resented the West Indies at one ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and is a strong candidate for selection to skipper the regional team to the 2020 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.
Holder’s most memorable moment “is that victory when we won for the first time the West Indies Under-17 cricket tournament. We created an impression the year before when we lost by 0.01 of a point. “That championship victory was a significant milestone for us in terms of Windwards’ cricket, beating Jamaica in the process.”
Another significant moment was the manner the team defeated the Barbados team, that consisted of players who believed that they were unbeatable.
“We as a Windwards unit, coming from four different islands tend to be looked down by others as not being serious competitors in regional tournaments. But we were able to beat Barbados for three consecutive years. I will always remember that.” the team manager added.
To Samuel Holder, the most classic moment was the game against Jamaica, “when we beat them for the championship. We were able to convert our non-bowlers and medium pacers into spinners in that game in Plymouth, Tobago; and bundle out Jamaica who was so comfortable in their chase, being more than half way to the target having lost just a couple wickets.”
He said that the strategic decision was taken to use spinners, and when the spinners had finished their allotment of overs, non-bowlers were used. Such was their impact on the game, that the captain had the regular medium pacers turn into spinners, and in so doing, “we were able to beat Jamaica.”
He has fond memories of Tobago for it was like home to them. The residents treated them well and the people came out to the various fields to support, which left an indelible mark on the manager.
“What is even most significant was that full support given by the residents of Tobago to all of the teams when the tournament was held in that island. Tobago hospitality towards the teams made playing cricket even more enjoyable,” added Holder.