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Windies youth coach confident going into World Cup

Windies youth coach confident going into World Cup
FROM LEFT: Floyd Reifer; head coach of the West Indies Under-19 team, Ackeem Auguste, and Junie Mitchum

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Floyd Reifer’s Focus is entirely on the 2022 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and “getting these boys as ready as possible, making sure that they develop on and off the field”.

Reifer, who is head coach of the West Indies Under-19 team, has recently witnessed his squad draw the four game Under-19 series against South Africa played at two venues in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We are focussing on producing the elite athlete in terms of how they operate on and off the field. The last YoYo test we did, fifteen of the sixteen ran 40-plus so we are seeing improvement, we are seeing development so that is important to us going forward,” Reifer told SEARCHLIGHT at the close of the one-day series on Monday, January 3 at the Arnos Vale One cricket ground.

Assessing the pace attack, Reifer said, “We did a lot of work with the seamers…There has been major improvement. It goes hand in hand that the stronger you are, the better you can perform.”

Skipper Ackeem Auguste, was also pleased with the performance of his team, pointing out that while the bowlers stood out, “We are never satisfied with just winning; we want to be dominant.”

Speaking about the threeprong pace attack of Johann Layne, Isai Thorne, and McKenny Clarke, he said, “It is a talented bunch, and everyone of them is capable of holding their own.”

Auguste noted, however that young Thorne has ability but needs to regain fitness. After the camp in Antigua last year and the players returned home, Thorne’s programme was severely affected by heavy rainfall in Guyana.

However coach Reifer is confident that with the work programme planned, all the seamers “will be on point going into the World Cup,” which runs from January 14-February 5.

Auguste, who took four outstanding catches off the fast bowlers; one of which left his team-mates with their mouths open in awe, said despite the catches which lifted the team’s morale even higher, “there is still a lot to learn.”

The Windies Under-19 skipper expressed satisfaction with the series.

“It was a fairly competitive series. It was low scoring and there was a lot of competition between the teams,” Auguste told SEARCHLIGHT. He added that the presence of Floyd Reifer the

head coach, along with Sir Curtly Ambrose and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the coaching staff, “is very good as there is a lot to learn from them, and we are looking to improve as a unit.”

While the team was starved of play due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Reifer was nevertheless pleased with the progress made despite the obstacles.

“There was no youth cricket over the past two years. Yes we went to England but that was the first time in a long time that they played any cricket. It is the first four games as a unit, while the other countries were able to play ten and fifteen games.”

And he does not see the senior Men’s team’s recent record having an effect on the Under-19 team going into the World Cup.

“We have always had talented youngsters. They have made tremendous improvements over the months. We worked with them remotely, and right now it is about awareness and understanding the different situations in the game, being on top of the game. These are the little things that they will learn playing cricket,” Reifer pointed out.

The 4-match Youth Under-19 One Day Internationals against South Africa was played on December 26, 28, and 30, 2021, and January 3, 2022, and ended in a 2-all draw.

Despite the drawn series, West Indies lifted the trophy, having won the previous series against South Africa 3-2 played in South Africa in 2017.

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