TT Under-19 cricket coach David Furlonge said the West Indies Under-19 team showed promise at the ICC Under-19 50-over Cricket World Cup, in South Africa, and wants more of these players to get the chance to develop at the first class level.
West Indies looked like they had the potential to advance to the final after playing unbeaten in Group B with victories over Australia, England and Nigeria. In the quarterfinals however, West Indies suffered an agonising loss to New Zealand by two wickets and exited the tournament.
TT had six players on the squad including Matthew Patrick, Joshua James, Leonardo Julien, Jayden Seales, Avinash Mahabirsingh and Mbeki Joseph. Fast bowler Seales was one of the team’s stand-out performers ending the tournament with eight wickets including two four-wicket hauls at an economy rate of only 3.66.
“They did well in the group stage which is all well (and good), but the main part is the knock-out. The captain (Kimani Melius) made some questionable decisions in not bowling Seales or Matthew Patrick out, his inexperience as a captain showed there. The team performed well throughout the tournament and unfortunately you reach the knock-out stage where every game becomes a final and we lost that final.”
Discussing the performance by Seales, Furlonge said, “Seales has been impressing since he was on Under-15 level...last year, he hardly played cricket during the season because of a back injury and he came back and played in the Under-19 (Regional) tournament and did well. Again, after that he still had some recovery work that he was doing down here with me and instructions from the West Indies coach Graeme West.”
Furlonge, who is the current manager of the TT Red Force senior team, wants the regional cricket boards to help Under-19 cricketers transition from junior level to senior level with more opportunities. He said somebody like Seales, who showed his quality, should play the remainder of the West Indies Four-Day Championships which ends in April.
“We tend to lose players after the Under-19 because we tend to stick with our tried and seasoned players but it is something that all boards have to look at. We need to now take a player and say, ‘Look we are going to give him an opportunity.’ Somebody like Seales, we see how he could bowl. Why don’t we give him the opportunity now in a TT (set up)? I am talking now, not next year. When he comes back (let him) play out the balance of the season with Trinidad and see how he develops there.”
The TT Cricket Board held an Under-23 tournament at the end of 2019 to try to bridge the gap between junior and senior level.
Furlonge said teams may have to suffer losses if young players are being used, but they will learn and the end result will be positive. “You need a policy and a decision on what you want to do, so everybody is on board, so the press don’t pound me when I loss and say, ‘Boy they losing.’ The press has to be aware that we are developing young players looking at another two, three years (in the future). The press and the public, everybody has to be on board with it.”