TT and West Indies Under-19 fast bowler Joshua James believes the increase in talent identification programmes in Tobago over the years has played an integral role in unearthing the many hidden sporting gems who reside in the sister isle.
At the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, James’ selection to the West Indies (WI) squad saw him become the first Tobagonian to ever feature at this prestigious tournament.
Of the six matches played, the 19-year-old James scored a total of 83 runs (with three unbeaten knocks) and bagged five wickets with his menacing pace. Since his return to TT, the youngster, who now plies his trade with National Cricket League Premier Division II team Barrackpore United, is working towards securing a spot on the national men’s team and ultimately, the West Indies.
James however, is of the firm belief that the recent increase in developmental programmes in Tobago serves as a springboard for young cricketers to pursue their sporting dreams.
“Being the first Tobagonian to ever play for the West Indies Under-19 in a World Cup, I think that was a blessing, especially coming from the ghetto,” said the Whim resident.
“Opportunities for generating more Tobagonian cricketers have elevated as compared to before. Now, they’ve implemented several different programmes which are helping the younger cricketers to develop their talents. It’s working because I am seeing more talents coming out of Tobago within recent times. We appreciate this a lot,” said the former Signal Hill Secondary student.
However, due to the nationwide shutdown of all sporting facilities due to the spread of covid19, James admitted he has now been forced to limit his training to cycling and running alone. Presently, citizens of TT are being reminded to stay at home, practice social distancing and prevent congregating in groups of more than five persons.
For a budding sportsman, raring to go, this is indeed a difficult time for James. Recently, he was provided with a special training programme by local sporting officials, to be conducted on a daily basis. Although he has already begun this regime, according to him, it’s not the same as going out into the field and playing the ‘gentleman’s game’.
“They (officials) sent a programme for us to start training daily. We really can’t go and train anywhere so this is what I have to do in the meantime. I’m bored without cricket so I’m just waiting for it to be all over and I can get back to training. This virus is preventing a lot of athletes from getting their time in but we’ll just have to wait it out. I miss my cricket,” he lamented.
After moving to Trinidad a couple years ago, James attended St Benedict’s College, is now employed and has directed all his focus on harnessing his cricketing talent in hope of a speedy resumption of the domestic leagues.
When asked who or where he was able to gain inspiration from, James admitted that viewing live international cricket on television as a youngster, played a significant role in motivating him to achieve and mirror the practices of seasoned bowlers. He also credited veteran schools’ coach, Brian Brown, for serving as a personal motivator and role model during the early stages of his sporting development.
“As a young man, I used to watch a lot of cricket, especially international cricket on television. I always appreciated pace bowlers as a youngster and wanted to mirror their actions. Being interested and following up these international bowlers as a young man inspired me a lot to work even harder at my goals. This helped me execute my goals and plans easier,” he concluded.