Jayden Seales is a promising fast bowler. He has taken 37 wickets in ten Tests, which is a pretty sound start to a Test career for a 19 year old. His debut was three years ago.
However, he broke down more than a year ago with a knee injury which threatened his future, and he is only 22. After a year of treatment, he recovered sufficiently to represent Trinbago Knight Riders in a few matches in the T20 tournament of the 2023 Caribbean Premier League.
Although they reached the final, Seales was not chosen among the 11 who played in the game which TKR lost to Guyana Amazon Warriors. He participated in a few matches, but not the final, for the TT Red Force squad that beat Leeward Islands Hurricanes to win the Super50 Cup in the final at Brian Lara Stadium on November 11.
So he’s been carefully moving back into shape for first-class and Test cricket.
Notwithstanding that, Seales has to be careful with the effort he expends to bring himself back to readiness for the highest grade. I’m sure no one has to warn him about taking precautions for his return, especially being out of the game at such a tender age, for such an appreciable time.
He would be well aware of how much he missed cricket; for, apart from losing traction on his career through that experience, it’s worrisome what doubt and fear of serious injury can do to a youngster as a professional cricketer.
He has been contracted to Sussex County Club from mid-April until June 2024. He could ask for nothing better at this stage of his development. There is so much more to learn, and I only hope that he will be well guided by the coaches who will be looking after his teams.
Although he gained exposure by rising to the top so very quickly, it would be wise for him to look after his body and his game, and, ultimately, the way he approaches it. Because he is at an early stage of his career, he’ll want to be ultra-cautious; but he shouldn’t do so to the extent that he lets his performance suffer just to ensure he stays fit.
He needs to be advised on how to pace himself, knowing when to go all-out with engines at full throttle and when to take it easy, not trying to get a wicket with every ball, but by reducing his pace, concentrating on negative bowling, with a steady line and length. There is a time to take it easy in the middle of one’s spell. He should take no risks.
This is not copping out – simply an intelligent approach to the game. This is for him to prevent, by all means, a too-strenuous effort in his bowling when called upon, or even in the middle of a spell, so that his bowling can be for the benefit of his team, without his risking personal injury.
After being selected for the “A” team’s tour to South Africa, it concerns me when Seales says, “This is a chance for me to try to get back into the senior Test team, and try to keep myself fit as long as possible and perform for the West Indies for a long time.”
I believe that he’s putting too much pressure on himself. He also talks about doing well for the “A” team by picking up wickets, remaining consistent and maintaining pressure for the captain of his team.
Seales’s attitude ought to be to focus on getting his fitness back, especially that troublesome knee. He should enjoy his game and bowl well within himself, without trying to bowl too quickly, or without exerting stress and hence building up tension.
He has to understand that his ability was discovered at least three years ago, when he was chosen for the WI team. He was the youngest WI bowler to claim five wickets in a Test innings.
It is easy to realise, for a responsible young man, how important it would be to be on an “A” team tour, where the team will be expecting him to bag a host of wickets to win games.
However, he’s been already recognised: thus this is an opportunity to regain fitness without stressing himself out.
He’s already on the WI team, so he should use these three games intelligently, to rebuild his confidence. He should treat it as a fitness exercise.