BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Opening batsman Kieran Powell has been praised by the Barbados-based West Indies High Performance Centre (WIHPC) for an impressive year with the bat.
Powell blossomed in Bangladesh last month with a stroke-filled 117 in the first innings of the first Test at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium followed by a brilliant 110 in the second innings of the same Test, to help West Indies win the match and the series, 2-0.
"This performance was worth its weight not just in the number of runs scored, but also for what it did for the team, in guiding West Indies to a hard-fought victory" said Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the Sagicor WIHPC.
"Kieran showed his awareness of the situations in both innings and demonstrated the strength of his batting technique — skills he honed while at the Sagicor WIHPC."
His remarkable batting display placed him alongside greats — George Headley, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Lawrence Rowe, Gordon Greenidge and Brian Lara — as West Indians who made two centuries in a Test.
"What Kieran has done is put his name alongside these great servants of West Indies cricket and we urge him to continue to exercise the same determination and ability which enabled him to reach such a milestone," Sir Hilary said.
"The way he batted was an absolute joy to watch as he showed composure, high levels of concentration and a touch of class with his strokeplay."
In August, Powell celebrated his maiden Test hundred of 137 against New Zealand at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua — where he was involved in a record opening stand of 254 with Chris Gayle.
Earlier in the year, he made 110 for the West Indians against England Lions at Northampton on the tour of England, and 137 for the West Indies "A" Team against India "A" at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in St Lucia, which brought him a total of five first-class hundreds this year.
"Kieran has now emerged as one of the fine young batsmen in a West Indies team which is making strides forward," Sir Hilary said.
"This didn't happen by accident. When he first entered the Sagicor WIHPC, it was clear he possessed immense talent, but it needed to be refined and nurtured towards producing at the highest level."
Several members of the Sagicor WIHPC have graduated to represent the senior West Indies side.
They are Powell, fast bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Brandon Bess; left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, wicket-keeper Devon Thomas, as well as top-order batsmen Nkrumah Bonner and Johnson Charles — who was a member of the team which won the World Twenty20 title earlier this year.
"In a relatively short space of time, he (Powell) has demonstrated what can happen when a player is exposed to top-level coaching in high-quality facilities" said the chairman.
"Kieran is the first of many players we believe will benefit from the vision of the Sagicor WIHPC — which is to produce a platform for the future development of players in the Caribbean region — as we see the re-emergence of West Indies as a major cricketing force."
Two members of this year's group — Carlos Brathwaite and Andre Fletcher played for West Indies before they joined the programme.
Two other players, fast bowling all-rounders Kevin McClean and Jason Holder toured with West Indies teams, but are yet to play at the international level.