Best U-19s available, says Hinds
THE Jamaica Under-19 cricket squad includes the finest players available, according to chairman of selectors Wavell Hinds.
"The (selection) panel is satisfied with the present squad and feels it's the best unit to represent the country at this time," Hinds told the Jamaica Observer.
The team, captained by former Under-15 standout Ramaal Lewis, left for St Kitts yesterday where they will compete in the regional tournament which gets under way tomorrow.
Noticeably missing from the Robert Samuels-coached set-up are prominent youth players Aldaine Thomas and Tezwayne Creary.
Thomas, a wicketkeeper/batsman, who has played Twenty20 (T20) cricket for the national senior team, was not invited to the Under-19 trials, effectively due to his no-show during the most recent Headley Cup season.
Officials from Thomas' school, Holmwood Technical, confirmed he did not feature in the competition because he failed to meet the minimum academic and attendance requirements.
Creary, an attractive right-handed batsman, made it to the trials, but was left out because of poor form.
The chief selector insisted there was a rigorous process in choosing players.
"We started over the first weekend with 45 youngsters and we interchanged and kept introducing new players from right across the island. We got a good look and the selection panel engaged the (schoolboy) coaches who were used like scouts because they would know their own players and would have seen players they played against.
"That way we got a good, rounded perspective of how players performed throughout the year because just looking at statistics isn't always the best way of selecting players. We had a couple trial games... three-day games and one-day games and a lot of net sessions led by Mr Robert Samuels as coach," he explained.
Hinds added that players who were overlooked for this tournament should not be disheartened.
"It doesn't say the ones left out are not good enough. There are also youngsters who are young enough to make the Under-19 team in another year or two. It's for them to work on their weaknesses... so they can give themselves the best chance to make the national team (in the future)," the former West Indies left-hander said.
There was a last-minute adjustment to the Jamaican set-up when Shawn Lodge replaced Dennis McGarvey, who injured a leg two days ago.
Jamaica open their account against Trinidad & Tobago, while defending three-day champions Barbados battle Guyana, and home team Leeward Islands clash with historic rivals Windward Islands.
Those six traditional regional territories will be joined by the ICC Americas Under-20 team for the 50-overs phase of the tournament which runs from August 10 to 20.
Squad -- Ramaal Lewis (capt), Fabian Allen, Tristan Coleman, Odaine McCatty, Nicholas Walters, Leroy Lug, Brandon King, Shawn Lodge, Romaine Morris, Thavi Spencer, Roshane Manning, Christopher Powell, Marquino Mindley, Malcolm White.