The Grantley Adams International Airport was abuzz with activity this evening when the West Indies Under-19 team arrived in Barbados amid much fanfare. They were greeted by Government officials, members of the Barbados Cricket Association and the West Indies Cricket Board, family and well-wishers, as well as the media.
The West Indies Under-19 team, under the leadership of Guyanese left-handed batsman Shimron Hetmyer, had created history on Sunday when they defeated tournament favourites, India, to capture the region’s first ever International Cricket Council’s Under-19 World Cup title. That final, which the regional youngsters won by five wickets, was contested at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh.
Arriving at the airport around 4 p.m., the youngsters were greeted by acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy, Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Joel Garner, chief executive officer of the West Indies Cricket Board Mike Muirhead, chief executive officer of the BCA David Deane and chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority Dr Kerry Hall, among several others.
During the official welcome reception Lashley said there was an expectation across the region that one day West Indies cricket will rise from the proverbial ashes and once again take its place at the top echelons of the international game. The minister told the young West Indies team that their performance in Bangladesh served to renew hope among regional fans for a resurgence of West Indies cricket.
“Your victory is not a victory that should remain relevant only to this particular competition, but I think that your victory has got to be a part of the rebuilding effort. As you Under-19 players take your preparatory walk or run towards the senior West Indies team, I have in a previous statement congratulated you, indicating that for me, I think that what we have to do as a Caribbean nation, of course led by the West Indies Cricket Board, is to plant the seeds of a robust developmental strategy,” Lashley said.
He added the victory placed the West Indies Under-19 team at the apex of world cricket and their victory had to be the point at which all stakeholders join to formulate a strategy to exploit and propel to its maximum the impetus given by their achievement.
Garner congratulated the players as well as the management team for their efforts in Asia. He said West indies’ victory was a team effort, while explaining that when all hands were placed together on the plough there would be success. He noted such could not be achieved when different parts of a whole went in all different directions. Garner said the victory was an indication that there were quality cricketers in the region whose talents just needed to be harnessed and encouraged.
Hetmyer said the major initial challenge at the World Cup was the spin bowling but he added the team got acclimatized to the conditions and the spin bowling quickly. He said team confidence played a major part in their achievement and noted the team entered the final with the belief that they had what it took to win the game.
He suggested that going forward he would like to see members of the victorious Under-19 team being included in their various senior territorial squads. This, he noted, would assist the young players with their continued development.
The West Indies team to the ICC World Cup included: Hetmyer, Kemo Paul (vice-captain), Keacy Carty, Michael Frew, Shahid Crooks, Jyd Goolie, Tevin Imlach, Chemar Holder (replaced the injured McCoy), Ryan John, Alzarri Joseph, Odean Smith, Gidron Pope, Kirstan Kallicharan, Shamar Springer, Emmanuel Stewart and Obed McCoy. (WG)