ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
Left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd, right-arm quick Kelvin Pitman and batting all-rounder Kevin Wickham are poised to make their first-class debuts after being named in squads for the opening two rounds of the Regional Four-Day Championship.
Nedd, an experienced campaigner in the white-ball format with 17 Lista A games, will turn out for his native Guyana Harpy Eagles while Pitman, who has played a single List A match, is part of a Leeward Islands Hurricanes provisional unit.
The 19-year-old Wickham, meanwhile, will hope to build on the six List A matches already under his belt after being called up by his native Barbados Pride.
The trio are among five products of the West Indies Academy who have been called up by franchises for the January 31 start of the tournament. The other two players – batsmen Teddy Bishop and Kirk McKenzie – have already played first-class cricket and have been named in the Windward Islands Volcanoes and Jamaica Scorpions squads, respectively.
Graeme West, Cricket West Indies (CWI) high-performance manager, pointed to the development as a sign of the academy’s effectiveness.
“It is really good to see players being selected to participate in the West Indies Championship. It shows the investment made by CWI in the development of these young players is bearing fruit,” West said.
“The West Indies Academy played in the CG United Super50 last November, some players also got picked in the CPL earlier in the year, and this was great exposure in the white-ball formats.
“Now, with the first two rounds of the West Indies Championship in front of us, we have players being selected for the red-ball format and we hope to see more graduate later in the tournament as well.”
The first two rounds will be played in Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. Volcanoes host Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at the Grenada National Stadium starting next Tuesday while in Antigua, defending champions Pride take on Harpy Eagles at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, bowling off the following day.
In the other first-round game, Hurricanes face Scorpions at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, also beginning on Wednesday.
The tournament will comprise five rounds, after which the newly conceived Headley Weekes Series will bowl off on April 19 in Antigua, featuring Team Headley and Team Weekes and the West Indies Academy.