Heaven lauds young cricketers at ISSA schoolboy awards
Excelsior and Manchester High schools claimed the top prizes at the ISSA/GraceKennedy SchoolBoy Cricket Awards Ceremony, held at The Knutsford Court Hotel recently. President of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and guest speaker at the ceremony Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven deemed the season a success.
“What we have seen today is very encouraging. This is at the high-school level, and if you look at the performances in terms of the recognition for bowling and batting, it is very good,” Heaven said. “We had seven-wicket hauls and 10-wicket hauls, with repeat performances from the players scoring centuries and double centuries.”
Several of the awardees at the ceremony were also representatives of the national teams, which, Heaven says, speaks well of the quality of the sport at the junior level.
“Looking at what is here and looking at what happened last year, and even the year before, I think it speaks well for the future of our cricket,” Heaven said. “We have some good, committed youngsters coming up through the system, and I think they are going to make a big difference to our cricket.”
Heaven, however, acknowledged that not all of the talented players are able to matriculate into the senior teams and this is a recurring issue that the JCA is aware of. To curtail this, Heaven cited the junior programmes within the cricket clubs across the country as a way to aid the transition to the professional level.
“We tend to lose our cricketers after high school and after primary school. There is a gap there, where they are placed into high schools that don’t play cricket. The junior programme in our clubs and associations was established to capture these talents, especially the exceptional ones, so that we can guide their development.” Heaven elaborated.
Excelsior High completed a double when they walked away with the First Global Urban U14 cricket title and the U19 GraceKennedy Shield. Wolmer’s Boys’, however, interrupted their urban treble by claiming the GraceKennedy Paco Kennedy Urban U16 title.
In the rural competitions, Manchester High did the double when they swept the GraceKennedy Douglas Orane Rural U16 title and the U19 GraceKennedy Headley Cup. STETHS were able to break their cricket dominance by claiming the First Global Rural U14 title.
Excelsior also claimed the all-island Spaulding Cup award after defeating Manchester High.
Kirkland Bailey, coach of Excelsior High, walked away with the Rafael Diaz Coach of the Year award.
The big winner of the day was Jordan Johnson of Wolmer’s Boys’ U14 and U16 teams, who claimed 10 individual trophies after he scored a collective 963 runs and took 80 wickets over the two competitions.
Carlos Brown, with his aggregate 896 runs and 44 wickets claimed in the U19 competition, won the Urban Best Overall Player award, with Andre McCarthy of STETHS winning the rural equivalent.
– Gregory Bryce