Opportunities endless for region’s youngsters
The International Cricket Council are considering a plan which would allow the region's Associate under-19 teams to test themselves against the best in the Caribbean.
In the past a combined ICC Americas side has competed in the West Indies under-19 regional tournament, but Tom Evans, the governing body's high-performance consultant for the region, believes a change might be in order.
Evans is in Barbados this week for a training camp with some of the best young players from the Americas, and while that works for their individual development he is not convinced it is best for their countries as a whole.
“It's an interesting debate that one, whether it's worth while getting these combination sides together,” Evans said. “I think there is certainly value in having a camp like this, but I'm a little more hesitant in getting them to play games as a combined region.
“At the end of the day in Associate level cricket, these guys need to play as their countries, and within their countries, to help their countries rise up the ranks.”
Bermuda have four cricketers in Barbados this week, Onias Bascome, Christian Burgess, Tre Manders and Delray Rawlins, all of whom are benefiting from the intensive coaching the squad are receiving.
Evans would like for those individual opportunities continue, and even expand, especially as six of this week's squad will be invited to train with franchises in the Caribbean Premier League.
“In terms of developing countries, rather than individual players, I think the value lies in coming away as a team and playing as Canada under-19s or Bermuda under-19s,” Evans said. “As a region we are leaning towards individual player opportunities, like this CPL [opportunity] and this camp leading into it.
“But, we've had sides in the West Indies Under-19s regional competition before as the ICC Americas, [and we're] toying with the idea that the winner of our under-19s regional event, in preparation for their World Cup, maybe they play in the West Indies under-19 event, rather than a combined side.”
Ultimately Evans believes in a two-pronged approach, with the Associate nations improving on the world stage, and individual players being offered the chance to play first-class cricket if they prove themselves to be good enough. An idea for now, whether it becomes reality will depend on how it is received by the West Indies Cricket Board.
“It makes sense to me that if we want to make our teams better on the global stage you give them more opportunity as a team to compete and learn together,” Evans said. “Then there is also the element that, if we can get an individual or two to play in the CPL, or playing first-class cricket in the West Indies, it gives young players in the region another avenue to learn and improve.
“That's almost another carrot to young players growing up that, yes, they can play for their national team, but potentially they can make a living through cricket with these sorts of opportunities as well.”
In the race to earn a spot in the CPL, Burgess and Rawlins have certainly done their causes no harm this week. The pair played integral roles in both the wins the ICC Americas side have had against a Barbados under-23 Invitational team in a Twenty20 game on Tuesday, and in a 50-over match against Barbados Combermere on Wednesday.
Burgess scored an unbeaten 83 against Combermere, opening the innings and sharing in stands of 67, with Steven Taylor, of the United States, and 99 with Nitish Kumar, of Canada, as ICC made 269 for five from their 50 overs.
Rawlins hit a run-a-ball 30 towards the end of the innings, and also picked up a wicket as the ICC bowled Combermere out for 152, to win by 117 runs.
Bascome and Manders also contributed, with Bascome removing two of the top three to finish with figures of two for 24, while Manders picked up a wicket and also ran out Shian Braithwaite for a duck. Burgess took two catches behind the stumps, taking his total for the two games to six, which included a neat stumping in the Twenty20 game. His overall performance left Evans impressed with what he had seen.
“I've been impressed with him [Burgess], with the gloves and with his batting, and just the way he carries himself, he's a really good kid,” he said.
“He fits in well and encourages that team dynamic which is sometimes difficult in these combination sides, so that's a trait we admire in him.”
Rawlins too caught the coach's eye, noting his batting, which he has been working on with Alan Wells, the former England batsman, was improving.
“He [Rawlins] looked good, he looked balanced, he's got all the shots, his cricket awareness is something I've admired in him since the first time I saw him. I was impressed,” Evans said.
The ICC play a 50-over match against Combined Colleges and Campuses today, before ending their training tour with two Twenty20 matches tomorrow.