Former West Indian opening greats Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes gave fifteen youngsters of Hertfordshire County Club a great opportunity to play cricket in Barbados.
The legends organized the first major tour for the Hertfordshire Under-17 team who are scheduled to play seven matches that commenced Tuesday, April 11.
During a reception hosted last Sunday by Greenidge and Haynes at a private residence for the young aspiring cricketers of the 203-year-old county club, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy encouraged the players to make the most of their experiences not just on the field but also off. Also present during the function was Hugh Foster and Devon Chase of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Iain Fletcher, coach of Hertfordshire told Barbados TODAY one of the main reasons that cemented their decision to visit the island to play cricket matches was the fact that Barbados was famous for producing great cricketers especially the likes Greenidge, Haynes, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner.
“It is a beautiful island, its called paradise for a reason and it has such a great cricketing history and legacy and with one of the parents’ [Dave Farmer] relationship with Gordon Greenidge, we were fortunate to get this tour organized for us which is wonderful for our lads to get one of the legends of world cricket ever organizing a tournament for their development is just a wonderful opportunity,” Fletcher said.
Meanwhile fellow coach Mark Ilott alluded to Fletcher’s comments, saying the players would be engaged in lots of training while at the same time learning Barbadian culture which he reckoned would be a wonderful experience for his players to learn about a country steeped in cricketing tradition.
England right-arm fast bowler Steven Finn was a product of Hertfordshire before becoming Middlesex County Cricket Club’s youngest ever debutant in first-class cricket.
Ilott explained Hertfordshire was a minor cricket county without the financial backing of the England Cricket Board and therefore saw their role as coaches to develop young players who would eventually go on to represent other clubs at the first class level.
“They can’t play First Class cricket for Hertfordshire because we are not a first class county but if we put forward these boys to other county to play first class cricket and hopefully in ten years time we will see these boys back here playing for England,” Ilott said.
Women’s cricket is one of the fastest growing sports, especially in England, explained Fletcher and Ilott who expressed their desire of bringing Hertfordshire girls team to tour the Caribbean next year.
“The aim is now to get the females of Hertfordshire touring with the boys to play cricket with the hope of developing a stronger and longer relationship with Gordon. Women’s cricket gets lots of coverage now and we have seen a massive up-taking of girls cricket at Hertfordshire and the programme the girls have now mirrors the boys. Hence they should come on tour and experience with the boys,” Ilott said.