ICC U19 WORLD CUP 2020: 18-Year-Old Kimani Melius to Lead Caribbean Side in Global Event

COMING on the heels of achievements of former West Indies cricket captain and two time ICC World Cup champion captain, Daren Sammy, another Saint Lucian cricketer has been given the opportunity to lead a West Indies team in a global event. This time around it is 18-year-old Kimani Melius, a former student of the Babonneau Secondary School and a resident of the community of Boguis.

One can safely say Saint Lucia has been blessed with talent all over; the well continues to flow, and on the horizon there is a youthful exuberance and a hunger to excel and there are waves of enthusiasm amongst Saint Lucia’s young cricketers wanting to make it on the international cricket scene.

Image: (L-R) Kimani Melius and Coach Alton Crafton. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)
(L-R) Kimani Melius and Coach Alton Crafton. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)

Some will go a long way while some will fade away. With an eye on the future, there are superstars in the reckoning; unabashed, undaunted and with a spunky disposition at play. One such tournament is the ICC Under 19 World Cup; it has been and will always be an unprecedented platform to offer a glimpse of what the future holds for some of our youth cricketers.

One young man has taken every opportunity offered or thrown at him on and off the field and has grabbed those opportunities with both hands.

The VOICE spoke to Kimani Melius hours after the announcement was made; the soft spoken Kimani did not have much to say apparently still trying to digest what was handed to him by the Cricket West Indies.

When asked how the announcement had made him feel, Melius responded: “It was a great feeling, but with my new role it’s more responsibility.”

In terms of preparation for the Tri Series between the West Indies, Sri Lanka and England in Antigua, he noted, “I am with the West Indies emerging team so training is coming on nicely.”

Kimani’s coach Alton Crafton congratulated the young cricketer on his latest achievement.

Crafton said, “Congratulations in the highest order goes out to Kimani Melius having been officially named captain of the West Indies Under 19 Cricket Team for the ICC 50 Over Cricket World Cup which will be held in South Africa. The defending champions, the West Indies, will open their World Cup campaign against Australia on January 18th 2020 at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley and also captaining the team in the Tri Nation 50 Over Tournament to take place in Antigua in December between England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.”

Image of Kimani Melius. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)
Kimani Melius. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)

I must say I’m extremely elated, overjoyed and even emotional on the news,” he expressed. “I believe he certainly deserves it and will do an excellent job. I began coaching Kimani from age 13 when he was first introduced to hardball cricket through the Northern Cluster Grassroots Cricket Programme and I have been Kimani’s substantive cricket coach from then ‘til present”.

I certainly have no doubt that Kimani has all the main attributes to, in the not so distant future, make the senior West Indies Cricket Team. I have witnessed Kimani totally dominate age group cricket in the Caribbean for the past four years. His continuous quick rate of skill development added to his deep passion and love for cricket will ensure his selection.”

According to Crafton, Kimani is no stranger to leadership based on the following: he captained Saint Lucia’s National Under 15s (2015); Windward Islands Under 15s (2015); West Indies Under 16s – Vice Captain (2016); Windward Islands Under 17s (2017); Saint Lucia’s National Senior team (Vice Captain) (2019); Saint Lucia’s National Under 19s (2019); Windward Islands Under 19s (2019) and the West Indies Emerging Players Team for the Colonial Medical Insurance Super 50 Cup – Vice Captain (2019).

“Locally, Kimani Melius has led his various teams admirably, including the Gros Islet Under 19 Cricket Team to 3 consecutive National Championships.” Notably, the team played unbeaten throughout the tournaments.

“Kimani also captained the Babonneau Secondary School to its first ever Inter Secondary School Cricket Championship, Massy United Insurance Limited 50 Overs Tournament, which they won by winning all their matches along the way,” his coach noted. He was captain of the Gros Islet Senior Cricket Team, Captain of Gros Islet Knights in the T20 Saint Lucia Primere League (SPL), and Captain of Melius Challengers in the Gros Islet Cricket Association/District Representative Cricket Tournament”.

In the words of his coach, the highly talented 18-year-old right handed opening batsman Melius in his cricket playing career which began in 2014, has impressively amassed 30 centuries including 3 double hundreds and 83 half centuries.

Image: (L-R) Junior Sportsman the Year Kimani Melius; Sandals Grande General Manager Winston Anderson presenting the 2019 Under 19 Sandals Cup to Gros Islet captain, Kimani Melius. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)
(L-R) Junior Sportsman the Year Kimani Melius; Sandals Grande General Manager Winston Anderson presenting the 2019 Under 19 Sandals Cup to Gros Islet captain, Kimani Melius. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)

“Kimani Melius also proudly holds the record for being the batsman with the all-time highest individual score in the history of St Lucia cricket. He made a score of 275 for the Babonneau Secondary School during the 2015 Massy United Insurance Under 19 Schools Cricket Tournament. He’s also had the honour of being the proud recipient of the Junior Sportsman of the Year Award for the last two years (2017 and 2018).”

The Northern Cluster Grassroots Cricket Programme of which he has been a very active and highly influential member throughout his cricket career thus far, together with the Gros Islet Cricket Association, wish to congratulate him on such a prestigious achievement,” his coach said. “We wish him well and have the fullest confidence in his leadership skills.”

Crafton wished the entire West Indies Under 19 squad, Coach Graeme West and the rest of the management team well during the Tri Nation tournament and the 2020 ICC Under 19 World Cup.

Meanwhile, The VOICE also spoke to the President of the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) Julian Charles, about Kimani’s latest achievement.

“We are delighted that Kimani has been selected as the West Indies team captain for next year’s Under 19 cricket World Cup,” he said. “Congratulation to him, his coach Alton Crafton, his family, and generally the cricketing fraternity of Saint Lucia and the Windward Islands. Kimani has fulfilled his leadership potential and undoubtedly will try his utmost to bring success both personally and to the region as a whole. Clearly his dedication to hard work, discipline and respect has paid off. He will require the continued support of the general public and in that regard the SLNCA asks the nation, including corporate Saint Lucia, to rally behind him in every way possible.”

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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