Youth cricket in Cayman got a big boost last week.
The arrival of WI cricket legends Chris Gayle, Jerome Taylor and Kenneth Benjamin captured the attention of many of the best U25 talents.
Though the trio only stayed two days here their presence and tips are sure to stay with locals for months to come.
In particular, from what some of the young players said, youth cricket is set to begin showing improvements in the near future.
One of the young players who can benefit from the visit is Joeniel Bent.
Bent, 14, attended both coaching clinics with the stars at Smith Road Oval and at the John A Cumber Primary school field.
The youngster says he intends to use some of the techniques he learned as soon as he can.
‘One of the things I learned from the guys is a cross-seam grip (the grip affects the amount of spin during bowling).
‘I’m definitely using that from now on. In fact I’m practising all that we learned already.’
The Prospect resident is a member of the national U15 team. His speciality is bowling though he states he is working on his batting skills.
During the days the stars were here rain was something of a factor. Dark clouds greeted the stars at every turn from their autograph session to their visits to the local schools.
Moreover one of the big reasons why the clinic shifted to West Bay on the last day was due to the oval in George Town being heavily flooded.
Nevertheless the son of Joseph and Sherdene Bent said that the weather had little effect on his enthusiasm around the stars.
‘The rain didn’t affect us, I feel, except sand flies were around everyone at the airport cricket oval.
‘It feels good the fact that those guys came here and spent time with us. I think the whole experience was cool as I felt them coming gave us a new way to look at the basics.’
Another young cricketer who walked away with a wealth of knowledge was David Lee.
Lee is another member of the U15 national team and attended both days of the camp.
Lee, 11, talked about some of the techniques he learned at the clinics.
‘I learned a special way to field where you go to balls at an angle. Mr. Kenneth taught me how to do a ‘goo-goo’ or googly.’
The Prospect native does equally well at both batting and bowling. He considers himself ‘an all-arounder, just like Gayle.’
Then again Lee is an oddity in that he has an immense passion for many sports. In all he plays roughly eight sports.
In addition to cricket Lee does football, baseball, squash, swimming, table tennis, basketball and flag football (as witnessed by this year’s Security Centre youth flag football league).
Lee talked about his involvement in so many sports at such a young age.
‘I’m into all those sports because it’s fun. When I come home from school it gives me something to do. I wanted to play sports, my parents didn’t have to encourage me.
‘I also do them because they keep me fit and healthy. Also my dad (Daniel Lee) said they keep me out of bad company and away from bad things.
‘Out of all them I really like cricket. My dad is from Guyana and when he was younger he played it too.’
Naturally dad Daniel was at the clinics as well and got added memories by taking photos of the stars and his son in action.
Hopefully his son can keep that commitment to sports for life and be a blessing to Cayman in the years ahead.
One thing that will certainly be in the younger Lee’s future is cricket and any other clinic featuring WI cricket greats.
‘I feel good the stars took time out to train us. I really thank Digicel for bringing them. I definitely plan on being at the next clinic like this.’
The young cricketers may be able to gain the most from the clinics but their parents felt some of the benefits as well.
One of them was Carl ‘John’ Christian. Carl was at the clinic both days with his son and U15 national team member Ajahn Christian.
Like father Daniel Lee, Carl toted a camera for the clinics and took photos of the stars and his son.
Carl talked about the impact the clinic had on him and his family.
‘I feel my son will benefit tremendously from the time he spent with them. My wife and I can see the knowledge he gathered from them is great.
‘I’m not sure if he knows it yet but eventually he’ll see the use of the information he gained in the last few days.’
As Carl states the presence of the WI greats can only feed his son’s desire to be a professional cricketer.
‘His dream is to be a professional and this will give him more drive.
‘Being a pro is not out of his reach. I think these guys coming makes him feel more confident that he can reach that point.’