By Robertson S. Henry
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Many persons who took time off to witness matches in which the hosts St Vincent and the Grenadines played during the December 10 – 19, 2019 WINLOTT / WICBC Under-15 Cricket Championships, were pleasantly surprised to see two diminutive figures chasing balls in the outfield, and displaying a level of cricketing maturity.
Inquires revealed that these two diminutive figures were none other than two 10-year-olds in the persons of Zack Thomas a Grade 5 student at the Overland Primary School, and 10-year-old Alston Bobb Jr., a Grade 6 student at the Park Hill government school.
The two cricketers performed creditably with both bat and ball, which elicited responses from all who saw them play.
Rickie Grant, the father of St Vincent and the Grenadines vice-captain Kodi Grant, was seen to be shaking his head. He was of the opinion that the inclusion of the two 10-year-olds augers well not just for cricket in St Vincent and the Grenadines but the Windward Islands; and sends a strong message to all and sundry that there is boundless talent in the islands, just waiting to be tapped into.
Samuel Holder, who was unable to take up duties as manager of St Vincent and the Grenadines Under-15 cricket team due to illness, was most pleased with reports reaching him about the two young players.
He said that he knew that they were part of the squad, but was most pleasantly surprised that they actually played as part of the starting eleven.
Holder who has been a mainstay of the Under-15 setup locally and regionally, said: “The national selectors must be commended for taking such a bold step, for that means there is material to nurture and develop for a long time.”
Holder added: “We must also be equally careful and sensitive where those two young players are concerned. They must be allowed to enjoy their playing days as youngsters growing up, and persons must not place too much pressure on them, nor push them too quickly.”
All of the visiting coaches and managers, along with the parents, spoke highly of the pair. In fact, even when St Vincent and the Grenadines played against other countries, the parents could be heard encouraging both Thomas and Bobb Jr.
Beno Pascal who’s son Stephan Pascal captained the Dominica Under-15 team, and has been selected as captain of the Windward Islands Under-15 cricket team was heard to remark: “Mister, if they had more strength, they would score more runs. But I am satisfied with what I have seen and happy that St Vincent and the Grenadines could pick two 10-year-olds.”
John Eugene former Windward Islands middle-order batsman and coach of the Saint Lucia national Under-15 cricket team was happy for the selection of the two. He said it would only contribute towards laying a stronger foundation for Windward Islands cricket. He saw only positivity on the selection, adding that much is dependent upon the parents, teachers, coaches, and the St Vincent cricket association as to how the two young players develop.
“We all have to be careful not to force things on them and guide them so they can develop,” said John.
The Dominica Under-15 coach Ray Casimir was of the opinion that unless fate decides otherwise, the two young players would grow into top cricketers. He admired the way the two bowled, and the patience that they showed with the bat, pointing out that there are lessons for the older players to learn from these two young cricketers.
Johnson Richardson, manager of the Grenada Under-15 cricket team said that he was most impressed with the exposure of the two ten-year-olds.
“They are looking promising, well-composed, and the future looks bright for cricket not just in St Vincent (and the Grenadines) but the Windward Islands,” stated Richardson. “I applaud the management of the St Vincent Cricket Association and also the management of the St Vincent cricket team for taking the bold step in exposing the two young men at that level.”
Richardson recognized that the other islands in the Windward Islands grouping would have fielded 11 and 12 year-olds as part of the long-term developmental strategy, and to play for three years at the Under-15 level. Both Dominica and Saint Lucia fielded 11 and 12-year-olds in their teams, but none had a ten-year-old.
“But to have a ten-year-old to play for four or five years says a lot, and it speaks a lot as to what can be accomplished, if those young men stay on the team for five years experience, then the future could be really bright in the islands,” added Richardson.
He added, “looking at them on the field of play; it was evident that both possess a very good knowledge of the game. They knew what they were doing, and went out there and showed that they knew what playing cricket is all about.”
Richardson, who is also the manager of the Windward Islands Under-15 cricket team, said that he is looking forward to seeing what they can achieve in the years to come.