BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Pacer Jayden Seales said the West Indies A team tour of South Africa will be important to his short and long-term career plans.
The 22-year-old from Trinidad & Tobago said he hoped to use the trip to South Africa to reaffirm his bona fides and stake a strong claim for a recall to the senior West Indies side next January to February for the tour of Australia, where he broke down more than a year ago with a career-threatening knee injury that required surgery.
"I hope to perform well for the A team and pick up wickets, remain consistent, and maintain pressure for the captain," he said.
"This is a chance for me to try to get back into the senior Test team, and try to keep myself fit as long as possible and perform for West Indies for a long time."
Trinidad & Tobago-born Seales, who made his senior Test debut for West Indies three years ago at the age of 19, is still working his way back after being sidelined for almost a year with the knee injury.
He made sporadic appearances for the Trinbago Knight Riders squad that reached the final of the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament in September before they were beaten by hosts Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Seales was also a member of the T&T Red Force squad that beat Leeward Islands Hurricanes to win the West Indies Super50 Cup on home soil last week and claim an unprecedented 14th title – but he did not play in the final.
He has taken 37 wickets in 10 Tests and became the youngest West Indies bowler to claim a five wickets in a Test against Pakistan two years ago, and he is expected to play an important role with the ball for West Indies A, which is led by his Red Force and senior West Indies Test teammate Joshua Da Silva.
"I am looking forward to playing in South Africa again," he added. "I have a lot of good memories playing there in the ICC Men's Under-19 Cricket World Cup three years ago, so I am happy to be playing there again, and I am excited about getting back to playing red-ball matches.
"Some of my [Under-19] teammates are going back to South Africa with me now, so it's just about rekindling that same energy we had and doing our best for West Indies."
English county side, Sussex announced this week, the signing of Seales as an overseas bowler for next season.
He had been signed for this year's season, but he was forced to withdraw because of the knee injury.
Seales will be available for Sussex from the start of the season until 8 June, enabling him to play in the County Championship and Twenty20 Blast before he departs hopefully to be a part of the West Indies squad for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup to be jointly hosted in the Caribbean and the United States.
He said the last year of rehabilitation after knee surgery was challenging, but he was ready to put that behind him and focus of greater things.
"Rehab was very long," he said. "The sessions were quite long, but I must say thanks to Cricket West Indies for allowing me to do the surgery in England and working with the physical therapy team in Trinidad.
"The physical therapy team worked with me from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, six days a week during that period, and they got me back to where I am now, and I am just looking to keep improving on my fitness.
"I had days when I was frustrated having to leave home at seven or eight o'clock on mornings, and not coming back home until it was dark in traffic. There were times I didn't want to go, but I always knew this is where I wanted to be, I wanted to be playing cricket for West Indies again, so I pushed through.
"All of the physiotherapists helped me out too. They spoke to me all the time, because they could see how frustrated I was at times, so thanks to them for keeping on track."
West Indies A departed from Barbados on Tuesday for a trip on which they will play only three "Tests" against South Africa A between November 21 and December 8 in the cities of Benoni, East London, and Bloemfontein.