Sports

Jonathan Ramnanansingh

13 Hrs AgoIn this August 20 file photo, Jayden Seales (right) of Trinbago Knight Riders successfully appeals for the dismissal of Nicholas Kirton of Jamaica Tallawahs during the Hero Caribbean Premier League match 6 between Trinbago Knight Riders and Jamaica Tallawahs at Brian Lara Cricket Academy on in Tarouba.
Photo via CPL T20 – Trinidad and Tobago Red Force pacer Jayden Seales has dubbed his debut selection to the West Indies Test squad “a dream come true”.

The 19-year old was the only newcomer selected by Cricket West Indies (CWI), on Tuesday, to a 13-member squad for the first Betway Test match against South Africa. The first Test bowls off at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia on Thursday.

Although only 11 players will be chosen to begin the two-match home series, Seales believes he has what it takes to break into the starting bunch.

“It’s a dream come through being in the setup and final 13 players selected. It was a goal of mine and it’s just a matter of me hoping that I get to play in the first Test match and do my best for the team.

“The nerves have not kicked in as yet. Probably on the day I may get some butterflies but as of now is to continue hard work in training and make sure everything is in tune,” he said during an online press conference.

Seales represented the maroon at the Under-19 World Cup last year and plays domestically for Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC). He made his T20 debut for the Trinbago Knight Riders at the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League, taking eight wickets for 143 runs from six matches, and made his first-class debut in December for the WI ‘A’ against a New Zealand ‘A’ team.

Seales was also chosen as a developmental player for the first match against Sri Lanka in March 2021.

Despite his inexperience in the longest version of the sport, the youngster is confident that he has the right amount of experienced players and coaches around him to help him develop his game for the big stage.

“I didn’t play much first-class cricket but I think being around the setup and training with the team from New Zealand, until now, I think I’ve put in a lot of hard work and my body is ready.

“It’s just a matter to go out there now and perform with the team. The bowling coach (Alfonso Thomas) and I go through our routines every day making sure we get everything right. I’m ready to take on any task that the team asks of me,” he added.

Seales said he has never really tried to adapt to any other bowling style than his own. According to him, it came naturally.

“I was told that I have a similar action to (South African pacer) Kagiso Rabada. I just look at the old WI bowlers. Now, within the set-up, I work with Jason (Holder), (Kemar) Roach and Shannon (Gabriel) very closely and try to learn as much from them and take it into my game,” he said.

TT Red Force coach David Furlonge also expressed delight with Seales’ selection to the regional outfit.

The fast bowler previously plied his trade under the former QPCC coach and was also selected by Furlonge to represent TT at the Regional Super50 earlier this year.

TT went on to win that tourney with Kieron Pollard leading the troops. Furlonge credited Seales’ discipline and impressive work ethic for his recent successes.

“I’m really glad for him and he’s an example for all young cricketers to follow and see what hard work equals. He’s made up of hard work, discipline and a strong work ethic.

“He remained focused on what he wanted despite the setbacks he had with injuries. Jayden is where he is today because of all of that. He is mainly responsible for where he is today.

“I’m happy and I’m sure the other coaches, who he worked with, are pleased with where he has reached now. Jayden continues to grasp the opportunities in front of him,” said Furlonge.

Additionally, lead WI squad selector Roger Harper defended Seales’ selection to the 13-man squad.

At the recently concluded intra-squad four-day WI Best vs Best match, Seales picked up five wickets for 87 runs and played an integral role in helping the WI ‘B’ team secure a three-wicket win.

When asked, during Tuesday presser, what convinced the selection panel to select Seales over more experienced bowlers, Harper said his recent performance propelled him to the top of the list.

“I saw a young bowler perform in games (intra-squad match) where Test players and the best of our regional first-class players were playing, and he performed exceedingly well. Even better than a number of players who have been playing first-class cricket over a number of years.

“The thing is the match was not classified as a first-class match but those matches were played by the best of our regional first-class players and he did well. I would like to think that if he can perform well against these players, he has the potential to transfer that on to the Test series,” Harper said.

Having secured selection ahead of Bajan pacer Keon Harding and Guyanese fast bowler Nial Smith, Harper noted that Seales was the right man for the job.

“Keon has tremendous potential. Going forward if he continues to develop and improve his skill, of course, he’d play a tremendous part.

“But at this point, we think that Jayden Seales is best placed among the fast bowlers to serve the purpose that we are looking for at this point.

“Nial Smith has shown tremendous potential. Head coach (Phil Simmons) spoke highly of him. What we’ve seen at this point, we think that Seales has an edge on the other bowlers and he’s the one that would best serve our purposes at this time,” Harper added.