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The Wright View

Paul Wright | Everything in place for World Cup

Published:Tuesday | April 30, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul WrightColumnist -
Windies captain Jason Holder celebrates during a net session at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
Windies captain Jason Holder celebrates during a net session at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

The Windies cricket team to the ICC World Cup later this year in England and Wales have been selected and the thirsty fans of these islands are looking forward to a tournament that brings back some of the swagger that we have lost in international competition recently.

I do believe that the team picked by a selection panel, “free at last” to choose the best players of the region, did a very good job. The absence of some big names have drawn the expected comments and criticism from a wide smorgasbord of ‘experts’ who, in the end, seem to agree that the team selected can be competitive in the World Cup and should not under any circumstances be underestimated.

Our captain, Jason Holder, has used the opportunity to play cricket in English conditions to show that his batting IS his forte. Hopefully the muscle injury that he sustained is indeed minor and that he will be at his fittest when the competition starts. Andre Russell continues to show the cricket world that he is indeed the best all-rounder in the game, but, when I remove my fan hat and put on my medical hat, I wonder if he is in danger of overwork and burnout when the World Cup starts.

During the series, he has to be handled with extreme caution and care. The other selectees now playing in the Indian Premier League are showing good form at the right time, and those selected who are in the Caribbean under the watchful eyes of interim coach Floyd Reifer are middling the ball with the bat.

Windies Legend and cricket icon, Michael Holding, (whose absence from commenting on Windies cricket seems to be at an end, is ruing the absence of two specialist spinners in the squad, but notes the presence of Chris Gayle, whose part-time off spin has broken stubborn partnerships in the past.

As Holding points out, the fickle and unpredictable English weather may be the Achilles heel of a team whose skill and expertise can be thwarted by the conditions and not the skill of their opponents. A big plus for this group of players is the vibe reported by the coach, as he manages a set of players who can at last relax and concentrate on their performance and not on smiling and cow-towing to unnamed administrators who expect gratefulness for their selection. Go Windies!

Our children have essentially completed the bulk of their athletic season with the Penn Relays coming to an end last weekend. I am sure most of them must be relieved after what can realistically be described as a gruelling season. Our depth of athletic talent has been revealed and cemented by the fact that after the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, some winners and stand-out performers, bypassed the Carifta Games and yet, the Jamaican delegation surpassed their previous record medal haul, competing against children from other islands who sent their best to the Championships (Champs).

At the Penn Relays, Calabar High School, still smarting from their defeat by perennial rival Kingston College at Champs, retain two of their three titles in unusual environmental conditions. They lost their 4x100m relay title to a Sports Medicine savvy coach from St Jago who recognised the “set –up for most of the other teams and also the workloads that they were under,” and that “the track is mainly corners, so we had to ensure that we put the better people on the corners”.

Consistent and persistent elite athletic performance is not due only to talent and skill, but is reliant on medical and environmental input from experts whose opinions are welcomed and appreciated. The post Champs absence of national treasures, such as Ashanti Moore and Kevona Davis, as well as Christopher Taylor, is a major cause for concern. With major international competition next on the calendar, the vexed question of school versus country looms large as we plot the future of these exceptional children. If our children are being overworked, what steps MUST be taken to ensure their longevity and continued development? These decisions cannot and must not be delayed much longer.