Youth cricketers upbeat despite covid19

Naparima College cricketer Kyle Roopchand.  - Marvin Hamilton
Naparima College cricketer Kyle Roopchand. - Marvin Hamilton

UNDER normal circumstances school cricketers would have been wrapping up preparations for the PowerGen Secondary Schools Cricket League (SSCL) 50-Over tournament. Unfortunately because of the covid19 pandemic the tournament will not bowl off later this month.

Last March, the 2020 schools cricket season stopped because of covid19. Just before the pandemic brought sport in TT to an abrupt halt, Shiva Boys Hindu College won the 50-Over competition. However, the much anticipated PowerGen Intercol T20 competition never bowled off.

Officials of the SSCL are expected to meet later this week to chart a way forward.

Players and coaches are making an effort to stay active by doing personal work and conducting Zoom sessions to stay on top of their game.

Kyle Roopchand, a Lower six student at Naparima College, is taking the pandemic in stride.

The right-handed opener said, “The zeal is still there. I am doing my stuff at home. I never stopped training or anything like that. The only thing I am doing extra is more strength and condition training.”

Roopchand said his time playing cricket is limited.

“The thing I am doing less is batting…the problem is to find somebody to train (with) and usually for batting you need two people. You can’t really do that by yourself, so what I could do for myself I make sure and do it, and do it on a daily basis.”

Roopchand, who is aiming to make the TT Under-19 team this year, said when cricket resumes he will be ready.

“If it has a (schools cricket) tournament, I will be more than confident enough to go in there and score some runs, because it is basically the same team as last year. Nothing really changed much, is just a lot of people will be out of the cricket, so I look at it as an advantage for myself. I don’t know if anybody else might stop or not be motivated to train, but I know I keep myself motivated and fit all the time. I look at it as an advantage to me to go out there and get some easy runs.”

Isaiah Gomez, who graduated from Shiva Boys’ Hindu College last year, was instrumental in leading the school to its first premier division 50-Over title in 2020.

Gomez cracked an unbeaten century in the penultimate round. One week later he grabbed 7/20, including a hat-trick, to steer his school to a last-round victory over Hillview College which sealed the title.

Former Shiva Boys Hindu College cricketer Isaiah Gomez. - Lincoln Holder

Gomez is eligible to play for the national Under-19 team in 2021.

“I am trying to stay positive. I started back training because I think they said league cricket will start back soon,” Gomez said.

Gomez, who plays club cricket with PowerGen, encouraged the cricketers at his former school to stay active.

“All I have to tell them is to just keep positive, keep training (and) try to stay fit and soon the game will be back.”

PowerGen has given its players a fitness schedule, which Gomez is following.

“It is very sad that we can’t be playing cricket at this time, not only for me but the players,” Hillview coach Richard Kelly said. “It is a way of relieving them of the stress of the studying all the time…the competition is good, it builds camaraderie not only among their own team-mates but the other teams.”Kelly said the players must try to cope during these uncertain times.

“It is really sad, but at the same time it is also understandable, because the covid virus is very dangerous. Everybody is just hoping that this vaccine would be able to counteract that, and hopefully the sooner we get it, the faster we could probably get back into action.”

The Hillview players have not been playing on the field, but have been spending the time wisely. Kelly said the school’s Under-14, Under-16 and premier division (Under-19) teams are all involved in online cricket classes.

“I have been doing some online work with them. Every weekend we have a Zoom class. I would send work for them, send videos (and) documentaries I would like them to look at.”

Kelly, in a message to the cricketers, said, “Trust in God. That is the best thing. He is the only person who could really help us at this time.” Coach of Shiva Boys David Sultan said the pandemic is a global issue and everyone must remain positive. “Is not only in Trinidad it happening, it is around the world. It is a sad thing, but life has to go on.”

Sultan is encouraging his players to do personal work during the pandemic.

“We motivate them to do self-training…the physical and the mental aspect they have to work on.”


"Youth cricketers upbeat despite covid19"

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