ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC) – Stroke-maker Kimani Melius has been named to lead a 15-man West Indies Under-19 squad to the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup which bowls off in South Africa next January.
The right-hander, who hails from St Lucia, is one of three surviving members from the disappointing campaign in New Zealand last year, with left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd and seamer Nyeem Young also included.
West Indies Under-19s will clash with England Under-19s and Sri Lanka Under-19s in a Tri-Nations Series here next month, before heading to the showpiece which runs from January 17 to February 9.
“The majority of players have been in the programme for 12 months and the Tri-Series represents the first competitive action for all bar three of the squad,” said chief youth selector Robert Haynes.
“Melius, Nedd and Young all featured in the 2018 World Cup and the experiences they gained in New Zealand will be tapped into and filtered through the team.”
Head coach Graeme West added: “I would like to congratulate the 15 players selected to represent the West Indies in both the upcoming U19 Tri-Series and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.
“The Tri- Series was always a key component to the team’s preparation and it will be used to establish our game strategies and reinforce the key messages that the support staff have identified as essential to playing successful white ball cricket.”
He added: “Everything we have been working on over the last 12 months has been designed to prepare the team for the opening World Cup games against Australia and England on January 18 and 20”.
West Indies will do battle in a tough Group B alongside England, Australia and minnows Nigeria, with the top two teams from each of the four groups advancing to the next round.
Melius, who averaged 38 at the last Under-19 World Cup, will lead the batting unit while selectors have opted from a strong pace element in order to exploit conditions in South Africa.
“We have looked to develop a strong seam bowling attack and the five seamers selected all offer something different,” Haynes explained.
“(Jayden) Seales and (Matthew) Forde were successful in the U19s Rising Stars Regional Tournament that took place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines while (Ramon) Simmonds was the surprise package with his extra pace and bounce.
“We have also looked for batsmen that are comfortable on the back foot and are prepared to play with a positive intent. Mbeki Joseph was a late addition to the squad but fully deserved his call up with a string of big scores.”
He added: “The Tri-Series will provide the perfect preparation challenge with a mix of styles likely to be displayed by England and Sri Lanka. The six group games will provide the players with opportunities to build confidence and get their game in order before the attention turns to the World Cup.”
West Indies Under-19s entered the 2018 showpiece as defending champions but finished third in Group A to miss out on a quarter-final spot, and eventually finished 10th overall.
SQUAD – Kevlon Anderson, Daniel Beckford, Matthew Forde, Joshua James, Nyeem Young, Antonio Morris, Ashmead Nedd, Mbeki Joseph, Leonardo Julian, Avinash Mahabirsingh, Kirk McKenzie, Ramon Simmonds, Matthew Patrick, Jayden Seales.