GEORGETOWN, Guyana – West Indies Rising Stars will hope to turn the page on a spell of indifferent form and start their ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup campaign on a winning note when they face multiple-time champions Australia Under-19s on Friday.
The hosts have lost four of their last six outings inside the last few weeks, drawing their four-match series with South Africa Under-19s, 2-2, and then losing their two warm-up games to India Under-19s and the South Africans this week.
Significantly, the performances have been highlighted by brittle batting, especially in the South Africa series, leaving several question marks over the side.
However, head coach Floyd Reifer on Thursday tried to put those concerns to rest, contending the string of poor results had not negatively impacted the side’s mood ahead of the opener at the Guyana National Stadium.
“The confidence of the team is still in a very good place. You use warm-up games to see where you’re at as a team,” Reifer told an online pre-match media conference.
“Obviously before we did a lot of camps and we hadn’t played many games together as a unit, so we used these games to kind of see where the guys are at, to see how they can perform their roles and responsibilities under pressure.
“So I would say the team is very confident still and it’s just a matter now of just putting it together with a good game tomorrow.”
Captain Ackeem Auguste and opener Matthew Nandu were the only batsmen to manage half-centuries during the warm-ups while the likes of fast bowlers McKenny Clarke and Johann Layne impressed with wickets.
And Auguste said he was not overly fazed either by the lack of results, as the squad remained a quality unit capable of strong performances.
“I think the enthusiasm from the guys has been good. I think we have been gelling well as a unit and I think moving forward we are very confident as a unit,” he noted.
“I think we’re a very talented bunch so I think everybody in the team can hold their weight. The team is full of quality batsmen and bowlers and a good fielding unit, so overall we’re very confident.”
West Indies topped their group in the 2020 showpiece in South Africa but then bowed out in the next round in a shock defeat to New Zealand.
The Caribbean side, who won the title in 2016, eventually finished fifth overall after their fifth-place playoff against the Australians was rained off.
Australia, whose sixth-place finish was a disappointment, said they were aiming for a strong start, despite their heavy loss to India in their warm-up.
“[The defeat] was a reality check for us against one of the strongest sides, maybe the favourite. But our team is checking out really well and I feel like we’re in good shape for the first game,” said captain Cooper Connolly.
“We can’t start off really easy, we’ve got to beat the West Indies and come out with a strong mindset. Hopefully, we can knock them over.”
The contest is one of two in Group D on an opening day, with Sri Lanka Under-19s and Scotland Under-19s clashing at Everest.
WEST INDIES U19s – Ackeem Auguste (captain), Giovonte Depeiza, Onaje Amory, Teddy Bishop, Carlon Bowen-Tuckett, Jaden Carmichael, McKenny Clarke, Rivaldo Clarke, Jordan Johnson, Johann Layne, Anderson Mahase, Matthew Nandu, Shaqkere Parris, Shiva Sankar, Isai Thorne.
AUSTRALIA U19s – Cooper Connolly (captain), Harkirat Bajwa, Aidan Cahill, Joshua Garner, Isaac Higgins, Campbell Kellaway, Corey Miller, Jack Nisbet, Nivethan Radhakrishnan, William Salzmann, Lachlan Shaw, Jackson Sinfield, Tobias Snell, Tom Whitney, Teague Wyllie.