The cricket legends came as promised to assess Cayman’s best cricketers for the Stanford 20/20 pro league, but the rainy weather meant they’ll have to come back.
West Indies faster bowling greats Reverend Wesley Hall, Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner and Courtney Walsh were in George Town over the weekend and because so much time was lost through the rain, Cayman’s finest will have to wait a couple more weeks to find out if this is the start of a full-time career.
Antigua-based Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is ploughing US$100 million into Caribbean cricket on top of the bundles he has already spent to create a professional league and improve the overall standard of West Indies cricket.
Had the weather been better, the legends would have gone away with a firm mind on their Cayman team of 16 out of the 32 players selected for the trials at the Smith Road Oval.
Cayman will play St Lucia first during the tournament in Antigua which takes place from 25 January to 24 February 2008. By 1 November all competing teams must meet the deadline that the organisers have set to have their pro teams established; Cayman, US Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla, Nevis and St Lucia.
The legends were impressed with the overall standard but because there was so little opportunity to really stand out, it’s only fair that they get another chance. There were a few nerves early on and players must have been kicking themselves that they didn’t perform to form, so they’re thankful of a reprieve.
Stanford 20/20 cricket operations manager Adrian Griffith made the trip as well as Antigua’s personal trainer Evans ‘Jawakie’ Jones who gave the Cayman squad some cardio-vascular work on Saturday.
Jamaican truck driver Ainsley Hall is a wicket-keeper/batsman bursting to be picked. He said: ‘From these trials it shows that I have to keep training hard enough to achieve what I want to achieve. I felt I did quite well. The pitch was wet and the ball didn’t come to the bat and we had to make a lot of adjustments. I’ll work harder on my training because I feel my technique is okay but I need to increase my fitness level, run a lot and go to the gym and strengthen my legs and back.’
Hall is 35 but has no fears about missing out. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a full-time cricketer. I just need to be fitter and more focused. I could never get fed up of playing cricket.’
Troy Taylor is an apprentice electrician. The 23-year-old opening bowler said: ‘The trials were a good experience. I think I did pretty well. It’s great for young players who want to follow a career in the game, but unfortunate for the younger ones who are still in school and some senior players who are settled in their jobs, family life and careers. I’m going to train harder and go to the gym in the afternoons.’
Cayman Islands Technical Director of Cricket Theo Cuffy said: ‘It’s good to hear that the legends are coming back and haven’t finalised their pro team. They have their views and Adrian Griffith will hand in a report which will look more favourable for us. Cayman has a different community, culture and habits from the rest of the Caribbean cricketing fraternity and we need to be treated separately.
‘I’m happy to wait and see what they come up with. The legends were pleased with the talent that was on display. Some were missing because of pressures of work commitments. This is a golden opportunity which the players don’t want to lose. We want to be a part of the special development of West Indies cricket and ultimately Cayman Islands cricket will benefit.’