The arrival of West Indies cricket legends to Cayman is huge.
Names like Chris Gayle, Jerome Taylor and former bowling great Kenneth Benjamin gracing these shores can only spring fountains of hope.
Such is the case with Technical Director for Cayman cricket Theo Cuffy.
Cuffy is optimistic that the presence of those stars will better Cayman cricket.
‘Cayman cricket can only get better with visits like this. It’s bound to make our young people more passionate about cricket.
‘When the kids hear pointers from stars like that it adds to the program here. It gives added support to the local coaches as they are tireless workers.’
In particular Cuffy has high hopes that tips from the pros can reap dividends on the pitch for Cayman’s national teams.
‘We’re tired of being the bridesmaid. We want to be the bride. In other words we want to beat some people and say ‘thank you for playing’ as it’s the other way round now.
‘I’m just really pleased that we have kept the interest in the sport over the years. We’re looking forward to doing well in a year’s time.’
News of the stars’ visit was extremely quick. All summer the headlines across the region were of West Indies cricket in turmoil as there had been so many changes on and off the pitch.
It was only in the last few weeks did Digicel publicly announce its intention to take some of the stars (the current batch of which have extra time-off due to the ongoing labour dispute) to visit Caribbean countries like Cayman.
As one might imagine some innovative planning had to be done to maximise the exposure of Cayman’s youth (who began school this week) to the stars.
The result is that the stars spend roughly an hour and a half today and tomorrow (from about 3:30pm to 5pm) with local youth players at the Smith Road Oval.
Cuffy gave some insight as to how the times and dates were decided.
‘Everything was done hand in hand with the association. I had two meetings with them, along with association president Courtney Myles, and things were worked out from there.
‘Basically how it worked was they have a preset schedule to visit Caribbean countries and they slotted us in. That’s why we chose to hold the camps after school and make the sessions with the players outside of school hours.’
The plan is for the U15 and U19 youth teams to get time with the stars. In addition players beyond that age group are able to get in on the coaching sessions.
As Cuffy explains, opening the age groups was done to maximise the impact on local cricket.
‘We opened up the U19 team to people 21, 22 and 23. For example players like Marlon Bryan, Kervin Ebanks and Ricardo Roach are no longer youths.
‘We felt it was a great opportunity for them to learn from the pros and past great Kenneth Benjamin (who I understand is a good coach).
‘Something from these guys, whether its tips on batting stance or bowling form, will have the desired effect on our people.’