FOLLOWING the omission of wicketkeeper/batsman Aldaine Thomas from Jamaica's Under-19 squad, chairman of selectors Wavell Hinds defended the decision, citing the teenager's inaction during the schoolboy cricket season.
The Holmwood Technical student played for the Jamaica senior team in the 2013 Caribbean Twenty20 (CT20) Championships after number one wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh was ruled ineligible.
Thomas, who hails from St Mary, has a top score of 93 in Under-19 two-day cricket and has also represented Jamaica at the Under-15 level.
However, according to Hinds, the selection panel was left with no choice but to overlook him this time around because of his failure to represent his school team.
Hinds, a former West Indies left-handed batsman, said only players who were active were called to the national trials and camp. He suggested that to include Thomas would have been unfair to others who played and performed well for their respective schools.
"We (the selectors) realised Aldaine Thomas did not participate in the Headley Cup competition.
"When the squad was being compiled there was no club cricket on and school cricket was what we had to measure players by," he told the Sunday Observer recently.
Hinds said contact was made with the Holmwood Technical's principal Paul Bailey, who explained that Thomas' absence was due to the student's failure to reach the minimum academic standards set by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA).
"Checks were done... Aldaine didn't participate because of matters relating to the school. I followed up with a telephone call to the school principal Mr Bailey, who outlined to me that Aldaine was not allowed to play Headley Cup because he did not meet the ISSA requirements," said the head of the regional players' union.
The Observer telephoned Bailey without success, but the newspaper did speak to cricket coach Orville Pennant.
Pennant said that Thomas' attendance record for classes as well as his academic scores were below the required standard.
"It's the ISSA criteria that you have to have an 80 percent attendance and a 45 percent average in at least four subjects. He never met either requirement so that's the reason he didn't play Headley Cup," said Pennant, also a former national player.
The Holmwood Technical head coach said he frequently held council with his players on school matters.
"I'm the coach so there had to be dialogue. I met with Aldaine over and over and it's not just with Aldaine. I speak with them (the players) and I keep saying gentlemen you have to go to class because if you don't you can't play the Cup. When I talk to him (Thomas) he says yes coach.
"Aldaine boards on the dorm... He puts on the school clothes and leaves to school, but is absent from class. He may be on the campus, but not in class," he explained.
"I tell them the cricket is second and academics are first," Pennant emphasised.
Another prominent player -- batsman Tezwayne Creary -- was also left out of the Under-19 squad. Hinds said his exclusion was due to his below-par showing in previous editions of the regional competition as well as at the recent trials.
The squad, coached by Robert Samuels, is scheduled to leave the island on Wednesday for St Kitts to participate in the regional tournament which starts two days later.
Squad -- Ramaal Lewis (Capt), Fabian Allen (vice-capt), Tristan Coleman, Odaine McCatty, Nicholas Walters, Leroy Lug, Brandon King, Dennis McGarvey, Romaine Morris, Thavi Spencer, Roshane Manning, Christopher Powell, Marquino Mindley, Malcolm White.