Stanford trials this weekend

Cayman’s expectant cricketers get their big chance to shine over the weekend at the trials for the Stanford 20/20 team.

The practice games involving 32 players at the Smith Road Oval on Saturday and Sunday will culminate with a team of 16 being selected for the regional Stanford 20/20 series. Cayman plays St Lucia in the first game on 1 November.

There has been wide speculation that the monthly salaries will be a modest US$2,400 which has not excited the senior players who are settled in their jobs and have more dependants and financial responsibilities than the younger ones. It has led to the older players stating that even if selected they will be unwilling to give up their jobs and settled family life for the vagaries of full-time professional cricket.

The Stanford 20/20 marketing personnel in Cayman have reassured the players that salaries have not been finalised for the Cayman players yet and will not be publicised when finalised in the interest of privacy. Apparently, they will be offered competitive and attractive packages, much higher than the amount being bandied around.

West Indies legends Reverend Wes Hall and Joel Garner will be coming to watch the trials along with Stanford 20/20 cricket operations manager Adrian Griffith and Evans ‘Jawakie’ Jones, fitness trainer for the Stanford 20/20 Antigua & Barbuda pro team.

The selection committee will consist of the selectors from the Cayman Islands Cricket Association and the legends will be there to give their recommendations also. The team will be announced next week.

It’s an exciting time for the younger players who have always harboured ambitions of becoming pros. Previously they could only hope to become pros by getting into the West Indies team but as it is so competitive, plus geographically things were against them, it was only a pipe dream. This is a realistic opportunity to make a step up to the next level and possibly higher.

One of the 32 is teenage sensation Ramon Sealy who is improving every time he steps on the crease. The 16-year-old has just returned from captaining Cayman Under-19s at the ICC Americas Regional tournament near Ontario. He hit three half centuries in four innings. Cayman came a credible third out of five teams and Sealy was the outstanding player there. He was the deserved winner of the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament Award, another of the many accolades he has picked up recently. Bermuda won the tournament, beating Canada in the final by 13 runs.

‘I feel good about winning the award but I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the tournament to go through to the World Cup finals next year in Malaysia,’ he said. ‘I just played each ball on its merit and didn’t try to do anything I didn’t have to.’

On current form, Sealy is likely to make the Stanford team. ‘If I get picked I’ll have to discuss that,’ he said as the ultimate decision will have to be a family one.

Dad Rickey Sealy was manager of the Cayman team in Canada. He said: ‘Ramon’s award is an extremely proud moment not just for me as his father but for the whole of Cayman too. He went to this tournament at 14 and did not play and came back at 16 as captain and did extremely well. It was a great achievement.

‘If picked for the Stanford team I would prefer him to concentrate on his education and see him go to university. If he does decide to go pro then I would support him too.’

Sealy Sr. was pleased to see two other youngsters rewarded for their brilliance in Canada; Patrick McConvey got the Most Outstanding Fielder award and Kervin Ebanks has been invited to train in a special squad in Trinidad next year.

Rickey Sealy added: ‘When we lost to Canada the conditions were extremely cold and windy. It was also a very green pitch that had just been shaved so there was a lot of movement and a lot more pace. We didn’t play well.

‘We also lost to Bermuda. They bowled a good line throughout and pinned us down. Ramon scored 67 but it took him 43 overs. It took him eight overs just to get off the mark. Bermuda had six players who have played for their senior side and two of them – Malachi Jones and Stefan Kelly – played in the last World Cup.

‘We beat Argentina comfortably by 10 wickets with Ramon scoring 76 not out and Zach McLaughlin hitting 25 not out. We had a tight game against Bahamas. They scored 212-6. We didn’t expect them to do that well. We got 214-8. The match was on Saturday and I feel some of our players were distracted by the news of Hurricane Dean. It affected their concentration.

‘The all-round strength of Bermuda brought them through. They have depth all round.’

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