NONE of the other teams took them seriously to their detriment. They treated them as practice matches for the tougher competitive games against the other recognised territories.
However, the West Indies Emerging Players team, an idea of the new Cricket West Indies administration, made up of cricketers who did not make the cut to participate for their territory in the recently concluded Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup, turned the tables on their more “recognised” rivals. They beat the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, in the final, by a whopping 205 runs.
The question remains, “how did they get there?” And, how could a group of young players from different territories come together, pool their talents and win a competition against more illustrious opponents? Not only did they win, but they did so in a most convincing manner!
Why is the most powerful word in this context and when the meaning is explored, other teams could learn from this triumph by an underrated side and may give them insight into what might be lacking in their perspective!
All the territories had to choose their squads for the tournament and submit them by a certain date before the competition. Along with their squad, they had to furnish the West Indies selection panel with the players that missed out on selection, with a brief account and a fleeting sample of their performance history. The selectors would then have to measure these players by weighing their age and potential, putting a competitive team together for the benefit of those chosen to improve their game while cultivating confidence. Consequently, it was vital to be cautious in their selection ensuring that they would have the proper approach and spirit.
And this is where they struck the right chord by the choice of Floyd Reifer as the head coach. Reifer seems to be good with players on the cusp of top-level status having been also in charge of last year’s champions, the little fancied Combined Campuses and Colleges! Yet, the introduction of Ken Benjamin, the former West Indies fast bowler, a coach of known ability, plus Ryan Austin, who appeared for the WI in 2009 and at present is a qualified coach, as part of the coaching staff, was inspirational. Their personalities meshed with the character of their players and the stage was set. It was never going to be easy. The significant key to performance was the manner in which the team approached the cricket, not as young, inexperienced cricketers to learn and understand, rather, to win the tournament.
And this is the secret of the game that whether one is playing a trial match or a fete match, one ought to always play to win. These youths came on to the coaches with the right attitude which Reifer and his men encouraged, believing at all times that they could win; and this flame, lit by their coaches, was kept burning by the will and the zeal of the players. The fire flowed into the breast of the captain Yannic Cariah, who kept it alight in the bodies of his men with his winning personality, never giving up, driving them onwards to their eventual reward.
Justin Greaves and Joshua Da Silva, their most prolific batsmen, the latter so expert behind the stumps that the fielding was motivated. The bowling talents of : Ashmead Nedd, a slow left arm orthodox; Kevin Sinclair, an off spinner; fast bowlers Keon Harding and Jermaine Levy, were all consistent performers. The young Leonardo Julien, on the big occasion of the final, together with Cariah played a sound, responsible innings. In the final the skipper bowled himself at the opportune time, revealing a shrewd cricket brain. Dominic Drakes, with a vital 38 not out at the closing stages of their innings, killed any fight remaining in the Leeward Islands Hurricanes. It was a merciless whipping with plans and instructions carried out on the field by an astute skipper and a willing team.
Roland Cato had his moments and Kimani Melius was quite sound as an opener. Melius’ catch at point – diving to his right at the beginning of the competition – showed a strong desire of a team that wasn’t there to go through the motions but one that was there to win. And that is the main reason one partakes in a sporting event: not for the experience nor the improvement, but to win. One has to experience winning and that brings improvement.
Winning is everything!