October 2, 2009
Four advance from Neil Williams Cricket Academy

Four young cricketers on Saturday, September 19, became the first graduates of the Neil Williams Cricket Academy.

The four: Mikhail Weekes, Ray Charles, Joelano Neil, and Jason Jackson have moved on in keeping with the academy’s policy of players not remaining beyond the age of 19.{{more}}

They were part of the academy’s Graduation Ceremony which was staged at the Media Centre at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.

The Neil Williams Academy, which was first known as the National Academy, came into being in April 2005. Prior to its official launch, Alfred Bynoe, one of the pioneers of the academy, operated a Saturday morning coaching clinic, also at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.

The academy was renamed in 2006 in honour of the contribution of Williams who died that same year.

Weekes, 18, who was part of the operations even before it became a full fledged academy, plans to play for Victors Two in the local competition. The right handed batsman has legendary batsman Brian Lara as his Cricket idol.

Charles, 19, who shares the same involvement with Weekes, is a young promising fast bowler who made his debut for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Under-19 team to Grenada for the Windwards tournament earlier this year. Charles was named in the reserves for the Windwards in the TCL West Indies competition which took place in Jamaica in August. He is among a group of players who have been shortlisted for possible selection this country’s senior team for the Windwards championships set for St. Lucia next month.

Charles has his eyes set on representing Eat Rite Saints in next national senior competition.

The third graduate, Neil, also 19 years old, had a two year stint with the academy. An all rounder, Neil said that apart from teaching him the finer points of the sport, his involvement in the academy has helped in shaping his character.

Meanwhile, Jackson, also an all-rounder, having spent three years with the academy, was grateful for the lessons learnt in all aspects of Cricket, and maintained that it helped with his interpersonal relationships.

Jackson plans to represent ASCO in the local competition.

Head Coach of the academy, Ian Allen, encouraged the quartet of graduates to return on Saturdays to assist with coaching the other members of the academy.

Allen told SEARCHLIGHT that it was a good feeling to see the youngsters move from one phase of their Cricket development to another level.

He lamented that coaching is not an easy job, “as you have to get the basics right at the early stage”.

At the Graduation Ceremony, former St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Windwards, Combined Islands and West Indies wicket keeper Thaddeus Michael Findlay delivered the feature address.

Chief Executive Officer of the Windwards Cricket Board Lennox John, Chairman of the Academy’s Steering Committee Garth Saunders, and Allen gave remarks to those present.

The academy, apart from taking part in the Bottlers First Division of the national Cricket Programme, is participating in the current National Lotteries Neil Williams 20/20 Competition. (RT)