WI future lies with success of Nortel series

Across The Board by the WICB
by Pat Rousseau
Stabroek News
July 11, 1999

The NorTel Networks Youth Tournament being held this month in Barbados is as important to West Indies cricket right now as it could ever be.

This is so because we need to raise the standard of cricket at the regional level and we must urgently find new talent to feed the West Indies senior teams.

The NorTel Networks tournament is designed for players who are Under-19 to gain competitive experience before they are exposed to international cricket. Some of these players are already playing for their territorial senior teams, while others get the chance to show their readiness for cricket at this level. It is important to note that following the tournament there is a camp for an All-Stars Team, chosen from the best players of the tournament.

The next step is the International Cricket Council'sUnder-19 World Cup which used to be held every four years but will now be held every two years. This decision to increase the frequency taken by the ICC at its last meeting should be a great incentive to our young players.

With this in mind, the NorTel Networks Youth Tournament is using the ICC's cut-off date of September in the year of the tournament for the players' 19th birthday. This will ensure that we avoid mistakes of the past in terms of age eligibility at the International level.

The month that these teams spend together playing in the NorTel Tournament is intended to develop the players beyond the techniques of batting, bowling and fielding but also to help them to become responsible adults and leaders.

This year's tournament has been reformatted into two zones with a semi-final and Final that should make it more competitive. We are also having a One-Day Knock Out tournament to expose the young players to this form of cricket. The competition is expected to be keen and several of the territories are holding camps to prepare their teams for the tournament.

This year we have a development team comprising players from six caribbean territories participating, who will be called the NorTel XI. We are also pleased to have Canada participating once again.

This youth tournament has enjoyed the sponsorship of the telecommunications supplier now known as NorTel Networks since 1984. West Indies cricket has gained tremendously from the company's support and commitment over the years.

The West Indies Cricket Board wishes to thank NorTel Networks for their long-standing support for youth cricket development. NorTel's donation of cricket gear to schools in the host country for the tournament is also of great value. This year, ten schools in Barbados were chosen in a draw to receive gear.

The WICB is very concerned about the high cost of cricket gear in the Caribbean which is a hindrance to more widespread participation in the sport. We will therefore be working with suppliers to make gear more affordable to our young people in particular.

We expect the 1999 NorTel Networks tournament to be a success and The Barbados Cricket Association has been hard at work to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

I would like to encourage the public in Barbados both young and old to turn out for the games and urge those who love the sport in other countries to follow keenly through the media. The future is here.

Pat Rousseau is President of the West Indies Cricket Board

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