Character was key
Coach says victorious U-17s exhibited good qualities
JAMAICA’S coach Junior Bennett said that after winning the Under-19, the Under-15 and senior regional 50 overs and four-day titles, it was important for Jamaica to add the inaugural regional Under-17 to the trophy cabinet.
“This title was fairly important, we have done well at the regional level this year, and this Under-17 was the inaugural tournament and we wanted to put this trophy behind us as well,” he said.
Speaking to the media following the team’s arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday, Bennett added that the decision to carry a young team to the tournament, which ended in Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, augurs well for the future of the country’s cricket.
He noted that at least six players from the winning Under-19 team were eligible for selection but they took the decision to promote the majority of the Under-15 squad to this team.
“Jamaica had the youngest team in the competition, we had at least six to seven players who played Under-19 last year and could have played in this competition... but we took the decision to carry a younger team, so next year I believe we will be served much better at this level,” said Bennett.
He said that although they did not get the preparation they wanted for the tournament, the boys showed character and played good all-round cricket.
“These guys showed character, they played good sensible cricket throughout the entire tournament... and they recognised the crucial stages of each game and played accordingly not to give away matches at crucial situations, so full credit to them,” he said.
Captain Ramaal Lewis, who also skippered the Under-15 side to glory, was also pleased with his transition to the Under-17 team, but noted that it is basically the same team he captained in the Under-15s, so there wasn’t much difficulty adjusting.
“The transition has been good, because only two players from this squad was not in the Under-15 team... so everyone was a national already and knew how it feels to represent their country,” he said.
Lewis said the tournament was difficult and he thanked his bowlers in particular for the success.
“We did not get the amount of runs we needed at all times, and the bowlers had to go out and fight with the runs we got (on the board),” he noted.
However, the St Elizabeth Technical Under-16 captain is looking to maintain his good record through to the Under-19 level.
“I won the title at Under-15, I have now won the Under-17 title, so I am now looking to move on to the Under-19s and carry on from there,” Lewis ended.
The Jamaicans, who defeated Windward Islands by six wickets in their final game on Saturday, went through the tournament unbeaten and topped the six-team competition with 29.5 points, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on 23.5.
Jamaican Fabian Allen, who took seven wickets from four games, was voted the tournament’s MVP, while his teammate Romaine Morris was the competition’s Best Wicketkeeper.