By Neto Baptiste
The West Indies Under-19 squad will play a series of warm-up matches against South Africa ahead of the region’s hosting of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup slated for January 14 to February 5.
This was revealed by assistant/bowling coach Sir Curtly Ambrose who, during an interview on Observer Radio’s Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, said the youngsters could play up to five matches in St Lucia.
“We are going to play some one day games against South Africa in St Lucia in the middle of December prior to the World Cup in January. It was supposed to have been a triangular series between West Indies, South Africa and India but India pulled out for different reasons so it is now West Indies and South Africa. I think its five one day games prior to the Under-18 World Cup in January,” he said.
West Indies will contest Group D of the tournament and will face competition from Australia, Scotland and Sri Lanka.
A legendary former fast bowler who claimed 405 wickets in 98 Tests and another 225 in 176 One Day International Matches (ODIs), Sir Curtly said the focus now is on keeping the group motivated and focused on the task at hand.
“We want to win and that is ultimate. However, it is not about winning at all costs so we don’t preach that. We just want to get these guys focused, we want to get them disciplined so that the execution could be spot on. Nobody is perfect so we will make mistakes as we go along but the important thing we preach is the discipline, the commitment and that will to win as a team and if you can do those things, the skills will take care of itself because the skills are there,” Sir Curtly said.
The Antiguan said the aim is to keep the players involved in cricket at the highest level even after the pending tournament.
“These young men, they want to play cricket and we keep saying to them that if you’re going to come here in this camp just to play for the under-19s and then maybe after the under-19s you just settle for some club cricket then don’t waste my time. The ultimate has to be playing for the West Indies, International cricket and I made that very clear and they bought into it and they are a good bunch of guys to work with,” he said.
The semifinals and final of the tournament will be played here at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. The semis will be contested on February 1 and 2 with the final scheduled for February 5.