By Neto Baptiste
Bowling consultant for the West Indies Under-19 men’s team during the recent ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, Sir Curtly Ambrose, believes poor batting performances proved the team’s Achilles heel and ultimately played a major role in their failure to advance to the Super League stage of the competition held here in Antigua.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Sir Curtly held no punches, stating that although the preparation leading into the tournament was more than adequate, the batting just never got going.
“It’s very simple, the batting just never clicked. Our preparation was good and we as coaches and players all went into the tournament very confident that we would have done well. We had some practice games, even toured England last summer so the preparation was good and we felt really good about it but unfortunately the batting never really clicked and it cost us quite a lot in the end,” he said.
West Indies were eliminated from Group D after winning just one of their three matches to finish second from bottom in the four-team group. The home team loss their final encounter against Sri Lanka on January 21 by three wickets after failing to defend 250. A victory in the match would have seen the under-19s advance to the quarterfinals.
The loss, however, saw the bowling come under scrutiny with some pundits criticizing the quality of the bowling attack.
Sir Curtly disagreed, stating that although they did not always get it right, the team’s bowling often delivered.
“If that’s the case I don’t think those people really watched the under-19s. Maybe they saw one or two overs here or there and nobody is perfect so you are going to have times when you get licks. Who has never gotten licks as a bowler? If people say the bowling never clicked or didn’t come to the party then I don’t think they really watched the tournament,” the former player said.
“I am not saying this because I am the bowling coach because it is not about Curtly Ambrose, it is about the team but when you look at some of the scores that we get and how well we bowled to try to defend that small total, most teams would take a lot of overs to get to that small target so if people are going to say the bowling didn’t show up then they didn’t watch the tournament,” he added.
Despite the disappointment over the team’s performance in this year’s tournament, Sir Curtly is adamant that the cupboard is not as empty as some may believe.
He pointed to the exploits of batsman Kevin Wickham who was a reserve player at the start of the competition but was subsequently drafted in as a Covid-19 replacement. Wickham topped the scoring charts with 243 runs from four innings to finish with an average of 81.
“He came in and did well, got a half century and then got a hundred in the final game and he didn’t make the original squad so that tells you the cupboard isn’t as bade as people might think. At one point we had 56 under-19 players in a camp and we kept breaking down to the point of 15 and there is a lot of quality around and as long as we can keep these guys together and have continuity then they are going to be ok,” Sir Curtly said.
West Indies finished 11th overall in this year’s competition.