On Target
December 22, 2017
Wishing for better days and times

St Vincent and the Grenadines’ performance in the just concluded Winlott Inc Windward Islands Under-15 Cricket Tournament was a testimony of what happens when planning takes place.

Whilst the team did not finish top of the four-island exercise for honours, the fact that the team could have won three matches is more than creditable.

This was a far cry from what obtained over the past decade, when St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) took out the title deed for the last place. During those years, winning one match was a premium.

Therefore, placing third eventually and going into the final round of matches on Sunday last, with a chance of lifting the title, rang a bell of accomplishment.

More so, defeating four-time winners St Lucia, on two occasions, is another feather in the caps of the youngsters who were selected to represent this country at the outing hosted here.

But there were visible signs that better was to come, based on the intent expressed by the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association Inc, who from the middle of this year had outlined a plan of action.

Prior to that though, there was the start of the Lennox John Cricket Academy, of which some of the Under-15 selectees are a part.

Even before that, the restart of an Under-15 schools’ competition not only identified talent, but gave the prospects an insight into what was required at this stage of their cricket development.

However, this glimmer of hope does not mean that our Under-15 cricket has reached its zenith, or that what was done, via preparations, was perfect; far from that.

What has been glaring though, is that we need to plan and implement a structured approach to getting our young cricketers to understand the prerequisites of the sport.

Twenty years ago, St Vincent and the Grenadines were the gurus of Under-15 cricket in the Windward Islands. Then, winning the title was a matter of course.

During that time, though, there was a vibrant North Leeward Under-15 cricket tournament.

In those days, although there were not many certified cricket coaches, a territorial development officer, as well as other support structures made the delivery of the sport easier.

Neither were there the facilities available to the players of today.

Back then too, cricket competed with itself and against other sports for the interest of youngsters.

Today, cricket, as do the other sports, has to contend with a changing world, which is being revolutionized by technological advancements; one has to redouble efforts to maintain youngsters in the sport.

It means then that the youth committee of the SVGCA Inc has now to build on what little success was attained at the Under-15, as one sunny day does not make a summer.

The latest was not even a sunny day, but a brief period of sunshine.

It goes much deeper, as that committee, along with others who are concerned with youth development, examines why in recent times, when we were not doing well at the Under-15 level.

On the contrary, when the same Under-15 players move on to become Under 19s, they show marked improvements.

But whilst we lament St Vincent and the Grenadines’ woes, the case of St Lucia is the total opposite.

St Lucia over the past eight to 10 years, has done well at the Under-15s, but invariably, cannot duplicate this success at the Under-19 phase.

As a Windwards unit, each should be the other’s brother and hold the other’s hand when in time of need.

This is critical, as the same players are called upon to form units to represent the Windward Islands at regional competitions: Under-15, Under-19 and at the Professional Cricket League (PCL).

Hopefully, one day, the four-island grouping, called the Windwards, cane be a force to be reckoned with at the age group level and at the senior level.