Former West Indies spinner Rawl Lewis was warmly received by a distinguished gathering of regional and local coaches and team managers here in Trinidad and Tobago for the annual West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Under-15 Championships which bowl off today.
The 36-year-old Lewis, who excelled as a leg break and googly bowler and hails from Grenada, is taking up his first major assignment for the WICB and would have been encouraged by the reception he received on Thursday at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva.
The WICB Project Officer admitted that it was a new experience for him as he expertly fielded questions and other concerns raised by the officials regarding the document outlining the playing conditions for the regional Under-15 competition.
Lewis, who played five Tests and 25 One-Day Internationals for the West Indies was told that if the WICB was serious of encouraging the Under-15s to become international players rules must be drafted that encourage the completion of 90 overs in a day’s play as is applicable all over the world.
Concern was also raised that the regulations for the Under-15 tournament gave an “unfair” advantage to the slow bowlers over the pacers as teams try to comply with the bowling regulations to avoid incurring penalties. It was pointed out that the slow bowlers would be preferred to their faster counterparts since they take less time to deliver their overs.
Lewis promised to take back to the WICB all the comments and observations voiced while suggesting that all efforts will be made to develop the fast bowling stocks of the region since he felt that the future success of the West Indies team rests on the unearthing of a battery of world class fast bowlers reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s.
Another concern raised with Lewis was the provisions regarding the wearing of helmets by the wicketkeeper and close fielders and if left unspecified in the regulations, could have an impact on the safety and wellbeing of the youngsters positioned in close proximity to the batsmen. Lewis expressed his satisfaction with all the arrangements made for the tournament by the T&T Cricket Board especially since the hosts had very little time after receiving confirmation as the venue for the week-long championships involving Barbados, Jamaica, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, Guyana and hosts Trinidad and Tobago.
Azim Bassarath, president of the T&TCB welcomed Lewis on his appointment and extended a cordial hand to the visiting officials saying he hoped their stay in Trinidad and Tobago would be enjoyable.
Bassarath said T&T was currently experiencing extraordinary rainfall which he hoped would not adversely affect the cricket and thanked the West Indies cricket Board for the opportunity to host the regional Under-15 tournament once again.
He said that after last year’s Under-15 tournament, managers of the respective teams heaped praises on the T&TCB for making the event a huge success and he is confident that this year will be no different despite the challenges faced so far. Lewis announced that a Player Development Seminar for July 7, an off day in the Under-15 Championships when players will be briefed on their responsibility to avoid the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in the sport.
He also stated that an umpires seminar for all the on-field officials involved in the regional tournament will be held on July 13. Both events will be staged at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre in St Ann’s.
Lewis also reminded the managers and coaches that they should impress on their young charges the necessity to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of their stature and not do anything to bring their country and sport into disgrace.
“They should be told that they are ambassadors and future West Indies players and should conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. They must always dress properly and be on their best behaviour while at the hotel, restaurants and especially in public,” said Lewis.