An inspirational win

Stabroek News
August 15, 2000

"There is an abundance of (cricket) talent in the West Indies, it's just to get it together."
- Tishan Maraj, captain of the Under-15 West Indies team; winners of the Costcutter World Challenge tournament.

THERE could not have been a better advertisement for youth cricket in the West Indies if Hollywood had scripted it.

Amid continued laments that cricket's popularity among West Indian youngsters is waning, in favour of other sports especially basketball, 14 courageous young men from this region have proved there is still great enthusiasm and love for the king of sports in the Caribbean.

The spirited triumph of the West Indies Under-15 team in the Costcutter World Challenge final in England on August 10 is a fairytale boost for youth cricket in this region. It could not have come at a better time either as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) prepares to extend its youth and development programmes to ensure the future of the game which has produced the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara.

Who better to champion cricket's cause but the stars of tomorrow - all the more appropriate as our Under-15s achieved success the hard way. Their ascension to the top spot among the world's junior cricketers brought out the best in these teenagers who tied their last preliminary match with India (and advanced to the semifinals on a better run rate); then beat favourites South Africa in a high-scoring semifinal and, finally, held off Pakistan in a keenly contested finale at Lord's.

The sight of these young cricketers praying and cheering each other on the field and from the pavilion was, by all accounts, something to behold. Both coach, Gus Logie, and manager, Lennox John, said they could see the team improving with each match and attributed victory to the boys' mental toughness, commitment to purpose and self-belief - despite being underdogs.

As WICB President Pat Rousseau noted in congratulating the champions, these players have done their countries, respective teams, families and, most of all, themselves, extremely proud. We salute these young heroes and their management!

Lennox John (manager): "This is a magnificent achievement. It was a total team performance. Everybody played a part at some stage. These guys developed a team spirit which I felt would take them very far. You should see them praying for success and they were determined to put that prayer into action on the field.

"They had a lot of encouragement from the West Indies senior team whom they watched during the third Test. In fact, captain Jimmy Adams offered a bat for the best West Indies performance in the final (Assad Fudadin). "No-one expected us to qualify for anything...These guys deserve a lot of credit and I hope the Caribbean gives them the credit they deserve."

Gus Logie (coach): "I am over the moon and extremely proud of these young men. I tried to ensure they were comfortable and that they trusted me enough to do what I asked them and they did. "They were committed. They worked hard and showed mental toughness despite many obstacles like sledging, even in the final. They have matured with each game and I commend them, especially the captain for the way he handled the team."

Tishan Maraj (captain): "This is a great joy. It was a wonderful experience to play at Lord's and for us to win the competition is a great achievement for the whole team. "This was a team performance all the way. We like to get together and say a prayer and that helps to motivate the team. We know each other well and we played as friends."

The squad:
Trinidad and Tobago: Tishan Maraj (captain), Lendl Simmons, Aaron Ragoonath, Ravindranath Rampaul, Kavesh Kantasingh and Dinesh Ramdin (wicket-keeper) Jamaica: Xavier Marshall, Howard Powell and Krishmar Santokie Guyana: Assad Fudadin and Hemant Poonoo Leeward Islands: Lionel Baker and Steve Liburd Barbados: Renaldo Parris Manager: Lennox John Coach: Gus Logie Sports therapist: David Cumberbatch

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