Cayman’s best cricketers will be assessed by the legendary selectors again for the Stanford 20/20 pro league after the first trials were thwarted by rain.
Former West Indies faster bowling icons Reverend Wesley Hall, Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner and Courtney Walsh were at the Smith Road Oval over the weekend to choose their 16 from a squad of 32 but the bad weather prevented them from having a complete look.
Antigua-based Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is investing US$100 million in the next three years to create a professional league with the intention of raising the standard of West Indies cricket.
By 1 November all six teams in Cayman’s group, which includes US Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla, Nevis and St Lucia, must have registered their 16. Cayman play St Lucia in Antigua on 26 January and if they win, it’s Trindad & Tobago next on 2 February.
Stanford 20/20 cricket operations manager Adrian Griffith and Antigua’s personal trainer Evans ‘Jawakie’ Jones attended the sessions. Jones gave the players an insight into how fit they need to be with several drills. Alistair Ifill is was one of the trialists who showed flashes of good form with the bat.
The legends were impressed with Cayman’s hopefuls. Hall told them: ‘In the West Indies the problem we have is that we don’t play enough cricket anymore. If a fella was on bad form in the past he would get a chance very quickly to play his way out of it. But that isn’t the case anymore.
‘West Indies cricket will be enhanced by this professional league. Although none of you are in the West Indies side, there are plenty more other islands that don’t have West Indies players. Young Darren Sammy in St Lucia has just got in, the first player from that island to do so. Now you’re in the International Cricket Council you can qualify for bigger games. It will be of immense benefit for all of you.’
Aware that some Cayman teenagers are strong candidates for selection, Hall added: ‘Any of you who are still studying, it’s got nothing to do with your ability, but you must stay in school. You must not leave aside your education.’
He added: ‘I saw some of you last year and was very pleased with your performances. The wicket today didn’t allow you to play a lot of shots. The batsmen are good but some need to change their technique slightly, nothing major that can’t be corrected in a day. Some of you fast bowlers need to tweak your style a little.’
He added that ‘a good half hour session in this cricket can turn the tide’.
Hall is glad that he has to return with the other legends. ‘We were supposed to come for just two days but the bad weather was a blessing in disguise because we can see more of you. We’ll have a board meeting to decide what to do next and come back and hope to get two more good days. We enjoyed being with you. I want you to keep loving the game. All this money talk should be secondary. I want you to wake up each morning wanting to play cricket for the next 10 hours and 10 months of the year and for the next 10 years. In the tournament we want miraculous catches, fast bowlers who bowl a perfect line all the time and know how to apply pressure, then build up the pressure, then take wickets. And batsmen to build partnerships. If the first two can build a partnership then the No.3 is not under pressure. You don’t want to be 60-6. Keep your minds on the game.’
Garner chuckled when asked to say something because he felt Hall had said it all on their behalf. The giant Bajan said: ‘I just want to tell you fellas to continue doing what you’re doing. When you sit down and talk to us fast bowlers we really enjoy it. The most important part of playing cricket is to enjoy it. I look forward to seeing you in the tournament next year.’
Walsh said: ‘I want you to aim high. The sky’s the limit. Be disciplined in your attitude. We can only advise you. You must implement them. If I grade you on what I saw today it would be very hard to leave anybody out.’