Charlestown, Nevis, November 22, 2018 (DBSKN) — Nevis was the first among the Leeward Islands to place a player on the senior West Indies Cricket team in 1972, opening floodgates that saw the tiny island that is federated with the island of St. Kitts producing another six cricketers who went on to wear the West Indies colours.
First it was Mr Elquemedo Willett, then aged 19, in 1972. He was followed by Mr Derick Parry in 1978, Mr Keeth Arthurton (1988), Mr Stuart Williams (1994), Mr Carl Tuckett (1998), (the now deceased) Mr Runako Morton (2005), and Mr Kieran Powell (2011).
While sister island St. Kitts is yet to place a player on the West Indies team, it is currently doing better than Nevis in terms of cricket growth. Nevis is lagging at the grassroots while St. Kitts is doing well having this year won the Leeward Islands Cricket Tournament three times in a row. In the same competition this year, Nevis finished at the bottom.
This trend has raised concerns in the right quarters. Cricket in Nevis is a pale shadow of what it was and St. Kitts-based former West Indies middle order batsman, Nevisian Keeth Arthurton has felt that something needs to be done in quick time. He is partnering with the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) to help reverse the downward trend.
Mr Arthurton contacted the Ministry of Social Development in Nevis and offered to coach cricket on the island, a proposal that was readily accepted. He has been running a training programme targeting 21-year olds and under every Friday at the ETW Park in Charlestown.
“I did a proposal and I submitted it to them (Ministry of Social Development), like I normally do in St. Kitts,” said Mr Arthurton. “I asked them if they can accompany me to upgrade the practice facilities because the guys are complaining so much about how inadequate the facility is and nobody is doing anything.”
He took it upon himself to approach a number of corporate citizens among them the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. When he contacted the bank’s Marketing Officer Ms Vernitha Maynard, she assured him that the Development Bank would be willing to partner with him as he has been running successful programmes in St. Kitts that the bank would have partnered with him.
“Once again I want to thank the Development Bank for contributing significantly,” said Mr Arthurton after he received the sponsorship cheque from Ms Hyacinth Pemberton, Manager at the bank’s Nevis Branch. “That money is going to be used to upgrade the nets, and facilities to include something like a shed or a pavilion – an area where the players can put their gears, and also where we can have sessions using it as a classroom. It will also be used for doing our preparations before we start doing the physical aspect of it, and it will serve as a shelter from the sun.”
Currently Mr Arthurton has about 25 Under-21 players attending the sessions. But while he is targeting the Under-21s, he still makes time for Under-15 and Under-17. He hopes to unearth talent in Nevis as he would have done in St. Kitts where he has been coaching since 2002.
Among his notable products in St. Kitts, the name that stands out is that of right-handed batsman Akheam Fox who joined the Oxford Brookes University in England. He ended up being a member of the university’s prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Universities Cricketing Centre of Excellence.
“Even though I am living in St. Kitts, I think I owe it to Nevisians to put something back meaningful because I have put a lot back before,” said Mr Arthurton. “I want to do this so that people could recognise that it could be done.”
Manager at the Nevis Branch of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms Hyacinth Pemberton, on presenting the sponsorship cheque to Mr Arthurton observed that the bank places a great premium in the overall development of the country’s youth and hence the reason it is partnering with Mr Arthurton.
“If Nevis’ cricket is going back to where it used to be, there is not a better person than Mr Keeth Arthurton to do the job,” observed Ms Pemberton. “He knows what it takes to be a great cricketer because he is one. Having offered to transfer skills to the youth in Nevis, he should be applauded and given all the support he needs. We at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis are proud to partner with him in this noble endeavour.”