Jamaican allrounder Andre Creary will lead a 15-man West Indies squad for the Under-19 World Cup beginning in New Zealand in January. Yannick Ottley, an allrounder from Trinidad and Tobago, will be his deputy.
The West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) chairman of selectors Clyde Butts, who was coach of the Under-19 team during the World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004 and was manager during the 2008 edition in Malaysia, said the "balanced" outfit had the potential to win the competition.
"I think we have a very good team and I am confident they have the ability to go all the way," Butts said on Thursday. "The team is a balanced one with quality batting, very good bowling and excellent in the field. I especially expect a lot from the two leg-spinners Akeem Dwyer and Yannic Cariah, who are capable match-winners. They (team) know what is required and the two leg-spinners add to the balance because they are very capable batsmen as well."
Creary represented West Indies in the 2008 World Cup, where his team emerged victorious in the Plate final. Butts, though, believed the team this time around was a much-improved one. "I can see them going all the way. This team is better balanced than two years ago when we went to Malaysia and won the Plate Final," he said. "Since I saw them in the Under-19 tournament in Jamaica and the WICB One-Day tournament in Guyana, you can see the vast improvement and development. They play well together and were excellent during the recent camp in St Kitts. You could clearly see the improvement and the boys are very enthusiastic."
West Indies are expected to arrive in New Zealand on January 2, and will play two warm-up games, against Ireland and Australia in Christchurch and Lincoln respectively. They begin their World Cup campaign against Pakistan on January 15 before taking on Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea.
Butts said West Indies will aim to make the most of the two-week preparation ahead of the tournament. "It will be very important that the players make the mental and physical adjustment in New Zealand," he said. "The conditions will be a challenge, New Zealand is literally on other side of the world, but the big advantage, is that the team will be arriving early and will have the chance to play warm-up matches. They will be travelling straight to New Zealand so they should have enough time to get set for the big competition."
Squad: Andre Creary (capt), Yannick Ottley (vice-capt), Jermaine Blackwood, Nelson Bolan, Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Yannic Cariah, Akeem Dewar, Shane Dowrich (wk), Nicholson Gordon, Trevon Griffiths, Jason Holder, Keon Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jomel Warrican.