Local, England youth cricketers benefit from exchange programme

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By Neto Baptiste

Two youth cricketers from Nottinghamshire, England are set to arrive in Antigua this week and will compete for two months in the country’s domestic cricket competition as part of an exchange programme between the two countries.

Keith Williams, Chairman of East Midlands Lord’s Taverners, said the players — Sam Foster and Tom Rock — will represent Combined Schools in the various competitions organised by the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA). Hopefully, the duo will not only learn to play the game in another environment, Williams said, while learning from a cultural perspective as well.

“I think they will make some really good friends and that’s one. I think too, they will learn a lot about themselves because you have to be self-reliant when you’re away from your support network. This [Antigua] is a great place for them to become self-reliant, I think, but certainly they would learn how to face a ball up around the face,” he said.

Two young Antiguan cricketers, Essan Warner and Timmo Thomas, were also in England last year as part of the programme, and two others are scheduled to travel this there summer.

Williams said he will be scouting for potential candidates while he is in Antigua.

“I am going down this afternoon to meet with Ridley Jacobs, who is the under-19s coach, and we will have a look at the boys down there [at Factory Cricket Ground], so it’s just pretty much me [making the decision]. The process is not just on the cricket skills, but we also look at whether they can adapt to being sent away and spending two months away from home; there is social skills and almost the glint in their eyes,” the visitor said.

Williams, an active cricketer in England, explained how the initiative was launched.

“I am also a chairman of the Lord’s Taverners charity in England and I met Karen Mae Hill in 2018 and [told] her that I was coming over to Antigua and would take some cricket equipment. She was very enthusiastic about cricket and sports generally, and then I said, ‘it feels a bit odd just taking cricket bats and wouldn’t it be good if some of the kids could come and experience a cultural and sporting exchange with the UK?’” he said. Williams also credited the country’s Ministry of Sports with playing a pivotal role in ensuring the initiative took root.

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