Caribbean cricket lovers have longed for the return of the glory days when the West Indies dominated world cricket for nearly two decades.
The backbone of the team was having a quartet of dominant fast bowlers. In the 1970s to 1980s, there were bowlers like Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, and Collin Croft. The 1990s were dominated by Ambrose, Walsh, and Bishop.
The West Indies cricket selectors and management are on a quest to land the next big fast bowling prospect. They took a bold step recently by giving Jayden Seales a chance to make his debut in the 1st Test against South Africa.
It was a controversial decision because Jayden had only one official first-class game.
In this article, I will analyze the positives and negatives of the decision to give Jayden his debut cap.
Jayden’s talent is rewarded
in explaining his decision to the media, Roger Harper made it clear that he was not put off by the fact that Jayden had only played just one official first class game at the senior level.
He stated via Sportsmax.com, “I saw a young bowler perform in games where Test players and the best of our best of our regional first-class players were playing and he performed exceedingly well. He stated that Jayden was “better than a number of players who have been playing first-class cricket for a number of years. The thing is the match wasn’t classified as a first-class match but those matches were played by the best of our first-class players. I would like to think that if he can perform well in those games against those players, he has the potential to transfer that onto the Test scene.”
I agree with Harper’s premise regarding this matter. If the selectors think Jayden has the talent then he should be selected. Jayden has shot up to the senior level after a successful Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 2020 when he took ten wickets in six matches with an average of 18.30 and an economy rate of 3.89.
He made further progress when he sealed a CPL deal with the Trinbago Knight Riders for the 2020 season where he took eight wickets. Ian Bishop also proclaimed in a 2020 ICC youtube clip that Seales “was ready to move up to the senior stage.”
He cited Jaden’s pace, control, and mental attributes. Jayden certainly backed up the proclamation and selection in the first test by picking up three wickets and was a bright spot for the men in maroon in a disastrous match.
The decision by the selectors sends a message to young players that if they put in the work, they can make it to the senior squad. In the corporate world, having a culture of meritocracy is the best mode of operation where staff can have the hope of climbing the ladder not only through talent but more importantly diligence and dedication.
The young players also can point to Alzarri Joseph breaking into the West Indies senior team after his performance at the 2016 U19 World Cup.
For far too long, the West Indies appeared to be recycling players because they have experience at the senior rather than their on-field performance.
For example, Tino Best continually got chances but fail to deliver consistently. The selection of Jayden shows that the selectors are setting the foundation to become a good team through effective squad selection.
Age is just a Number
Jayden making his debut as a 19-year-old is not even close to the youngest player to make his Test debut. According to Espncricinfo.com, the record is held by Hasan Razan of Pakistan who made his debut against Zimbabwe at 14 years 227 days old.
Sachin Tendulkar appears fifth in the list at 16 years 205 days when he appeared against Pakistan in November 1989. Other noteworthy players from the top 40 youngest players to make debut include Harbhajan Singh at number 29 and Daniel Vettori at number 37 who made their debuts at 17 and 18-years-old, respectively.
Another interesting fact from the table is that the 20 youngest players to make their debut all come from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
It indicates that teams from the subcontinent are not afraid to expose their highly touted young players to the big stage. The first West Indian appears in the list at number 21 is JED Sealy who made his debut at 17years 122 days in January 1930.
The next Windies player is the iconic all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers at 17years 245 days old in March 1954. Some might say well these are spin bowlers, all-rounders, and batsmen.
However, another legend that made his debut before 19 years old is Wasim Akram. The legendary fast bowler made his debut at 18 years and 236 days. The examination of these stats proves that at 19 years Jayden Seales is not too young for international cricket.
It is quite an achievement to make your international debut as a 19-year-old. Jayden must see this as a launching pad to hone his craft as a junior player than to have complacency set in as if he has arrived.
Some of the players in the youngest debut player list never quite lived up to the hype after their first taste of senior cricket.Some players on the list regressed and fell out of the system quickly. So far, Jayden has maintained his work ethic to achieve success and he must work hard to take his game to the next level.
In a recent interview, Jason Holder, Jayden’s current fast bowling teammate, expressed caution in how the team will use the young player going forward. He stated via the Jamaica Observer, “I just hope that we manage him well, and when I say manage him well, we still have to understand that Jayden [was playing] his second first-class game and his first Test match”.
He continued, “So the body will take a little bit of time to adjust to the workload, and we’ve got to be very, very careful not to bowl him to the ground. I think sometimes we get excited with a young prospect such as Jayden and throw him into all three formats. I would just personally like to see a gradual build-up with him into the other formats, if that’s the direction Cricket West Indies wants to go.”
I agree with Holder’s sentiments. The last thing we would want is Jayden’s body to fall apart due to the strain of playing all three formats of the game. It is certainly a potential negative when the selectors contemplate putting a teenager into the senior setup.
The selection of Jayden certainly has more positives in rewarding his talent, setting the right culture, and exposing the myth that young players should wait to make their debut based on age.
However, caution must be exercised by the player and management if we are to maximize his success
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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