By Lloyd Jodah
The cricket stadium in Lauderhill was built in 2007 with the aim of having some matches of the 2007 World Cup played there. However that dream was not realized. Now though teams for the 2nd year in a row teams from the West Indies are making appearances at the Stadium.
The University of the West Indies participated in the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship last March in a precedent-setting move, now this year the Championship will have two top Caribbean high schools playing as “Special Guests”. Excelsior High of Jamaica and Presentation College Chaguanas of Trinidad & Tobago.
“Courtney Walsh, Chris Gayle, Patrick Patterson and Huton Dowe attended Excelsior High School, and its cricket program continues to be of a high standard with two students currently in the Jamaican Under 15 & Under 19 teams,” said Excelsior Principal Deanroy Bromfield, “We have made the Semi-finals every year since 2006, and 8 of the players have Senior Cup experience.”
Presentation College Chaguanas has produced many outstanding cricketers, including Adrian Barath, Ravi Rampaul, Dinesh Ramdin, Theo Cuffy, Dinath Ramnarine, Suruj Ragoonath and Doodnauth Ramkisson, and usually wins the T & T high schools cricket championship each year.
Academically Presentation College Chaguanas has won ten President’s medals, six in the last eleven years making Presentation College Chaguanas the only school in Trinidad to achieve such a feat. These scholarships are to attend universities either locally or worldwide. The school also routinely wins nation wide competitions in Science, Math, Computing, Debating, the Arts, and Film.
The school’s Press Release said, “Presentation College is pleased to have been invited to Lauderhill, Florida to participate in the 2011 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship and we see this as an opportunity to “blood” some of our talented young players. Additionally we are eager to exercise our civic responsibility as ambassadors by partnering with the Borough of Chaguanas (our hometown) in deepening the sporting and cultural ties with its recently twinned city of Lauderhill, Florida, the Championship hosts.”
20 year Adrian Barath (a protégé of Brian Lara) made his first-class debut whilst still a student at Presentation College and is the youngest West Indian to score a Test century, making it on his debut in Nov 2009. He recently scored a century in a World Cup warm up game for the West Indies. Barath was also instrumental in Trinidad & Tobago’s tremendous performance in reaching the Finals of the Champions League in 2009. In the IPL, he played for the Kings XI Punjab.
Courtney Walsh’s first claim to fame was taking 10 wickets as an Excelsior student in 1979. He went on to take 519 wickets in Tests, and together with Curtly Ambrose formed one of the most successful fast bowling pairs in cricket history. As an Excelsior student Chris Gayle played youth cricket for the West Indies then went on to be one of the most exciting batsmen in world cricket.
Of course Jamaican high schools’ athletes have always done well at the annual Penn Relays, held at the University of Pennsylvania and the annual event is a huge motivation for the top young Jamaican athletes. In return their supporters usually come out in droves. Last year Usain Bolt competed at the Penn Relays.
The two Caribbean high schools, Excelsior and Presentation, will play games against American College Cricket teams, then on Saturday, March 19 will play a feature game against each other under lights in the Stadium. This could be the beginning of a new era for cricket in the West Indies.