Shelving the three-day version of the annual Regional Under-19 competition was a deliberate ploy by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to give the Caribbean’s youth cricketers more exposure to 50-over cricket with the aim of lifting the Youth World Cup.
This was the response given by WICB President Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron when local media operatives quizzed him on the issue on Wednesday evening at the Georgetown Cricket Club pavilion, Bourda.
Currently, the Under-19 competition is being played in Jamaica, but the territories are competing solely in the 50-over format, a decision Cameron believes will help the West Indies to mould a winning team for the World Cup.
“When you look at our peer countries – and our Under-19 players go to play them every two years at the World Cup – we realise how many ODIs [One Day Internationals] those players have played compared to our players,” he observed.
“There are two things – our objectives are at the youth level: identify youngsters, and secondly, bringing them into West Indies cricket. At the youth level, at Under-19, we’re trying to win a World Cup so we have to play the format that allows us to win.”
Last year, both the three-day and 50-over versions were held with host Guyana emerging victorious, copping both titles. With a gap now created with the absence of the longer version, Cameron believes it is time for the club system to kick into motion.
“Then the issue we have now is transforming our Under-19 good players to Test players. So we recognise there is a gap, and that’s why we said now that the club system has to work, the club system needs to come into place and at the club level we will now play three-day, so that the players can move into the PCL [Professional Cricket League],” Cameron explained.
The WICB head pointed out that in the not-too-distant future, there could be the setting up of an Under-23 regional competition to bridge the gap between Under-19 and First-Class cricket, something similar to the PCL.
He explained, “We won’t be able to play 10 matches, but at least five games a year. We think that is the missing link that needs to happen. Of course, we want more cricket to be played, but we also have to be mindful that we want to compete at international level and win matches.”
The six regional teams – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and Windward Islands – along with a side from Canada are presently playing each other once in a round-robin competition, with the top two teams contesting the final to determine the winner.
WICB Director of Cricket, Richard Pybus, said earlier this year, “It is a fantastic opportunity for the Region’s best young players to showcase their talent to break into the West Indies Under-19 squad for the [International Cricket Council] ICC Youth World Cup next year in Bangladesh.”
The Regional Under-19 tournament started on July 20 and will conclude on August 16.
(Taken from Guyana Times)