Former West Indies all rounder and Barbados National Coach, Vasbert Drakes, believes that the Digicel Cricket Clinics are an important platform for the development of rounded West Indian cricketers.
“[The Digicel Clinics] are an important platform that will stay with the kids for the rest of their cricketing careers because this is where their cricket careers start – from the grassroots level,” Drakes said at Kensington Oval during a break on day one of the Digicel Cricket Clinics in Barbados on Sunday.
“What you learn in the first five or six years, that is the foundation that carries you through for the rest of your life so when they move on to Under 19 and senior national teams they have something to refer back to. This is what this programme is supposed to serve as. That’s the way forward, that’s taking cricket to the next level,” reasoned Drakes, who appeared in 12 Test matches and 34 One Day Internationals for the West Indies.
The 40 year old Drakes believes that the young players will be motivated even further as they interact with current international players who are the role models of the young players.
“It is easier for a kid to pay attention to a role model, to someone like Ramnaresh Sarwan or Denesh Ramdin or Chris Gayle, who they see playing on national television and doing so successfully. So when you get involved in a programme like this that kid would be more likely to buy into what you have to say,” said Drakes, who resumed his international career in 2002 at age 33 after a prolonged absence from the international stage.
“You have guys like Sarwan and Ramdin who have experienced playing at the highest level coming back, getting involved here in Barbados. It is very important that their generation understand the role they have to play for this upcoming generation to benefit. I am sure that ventures such as these Clinics will result in the future of West Indies cricket being a lot more productive,” Drakes said.
And Sarwan said he continues to be impressed with the natural talent across the region and is keen to contribute in whatever way he can to help nurture the promising young cricketers.
“Myself and Denesh are here in Barbados and Chris (Gayle) and Jerome (Taylor) were in Jamaica and Cayman and we are doing this to help develop West Indies – to help the young players coming through, it is our contribution and our way of giving back,” Sarwan said, while sitting in the Sir Garfield Sobers Pavilion overlooking the Kensington Oval. The venue is where Sarwan made a majestic career best 291 against England earlier this year in the Digicel Series.
“We are not doing anything complicated, we are keeping it simple and we are trying to teach the basics – how to grip a bat properly, the basics of bowling and wicket keeping and then the coaches like Keith (Arthurton) and Vasbert can build on that with more advanced material,” Sarwan said.
The 29 year old Sarwan – who has played 81 Tests and 152 ODIs – said he was pleased that the youngsters have not been shy in asking numerous questions.
“They ask a lot of questions and that’s a great sign, once they ask questions it means they are listening, they are keen and they want to do well,” said Sarwan, while noting that the Digicel Cricket Clinics 2009 can uncover some more in the long line of Test cricketers from Barbados.
Drakes was happy with the efforts made by Digicel in putting on the Digicel Cricket Clinics, and urged that they be done on an annual basis and that other similar ventures be undertaken by other companies in order to contribute to the sustained development of West Indies cricket.
“You have to thank Digicel for taking this initiative because the beauty about this venture is this is where the kids learn the fundamentals, this is where they are getting their grounding in cricket, and we need to see more programmes like these if we are going to move forward like the other Test playing nations” Drakes said.