High Praise for Johnson Charles

From left to right West Indies Under-19 cricketer, Larry Edward; Minister of Sports, Lenard Montoute; West Indies Cricketer, Johnson Charles; and West Indies Captain, Darren Sammy.

West Indies Cricket Captain Darren Sammy looked forward to the day, when another St Lucian would have the similar honour of playing for the West Indies Senior Cricket Team. He lamented the fact he always travelled alone when heading out of St Lucia to join his teammates prior to playing overseas. He now has a travelling companion after Johnson Charles got the nod, to play for the side in the upcoming Twenty20 against England later this month.
Charles’ achievement has not gone unnoticed. Last week the executive St Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) applauded the 22 year-old on his selection referring to it as a “tremendous achievement.”
The SLNCA will again honour Charles over the weekend, but on Thursday at a recognition ceremony at Bay Gardens Beach Resort, the Department of Youth and Sports took their turn at bat in honouring him.
The guest list included Minister of Sports, Lenard Montoute; Permanent Secretary in the Department of Youth and Sports, Donovan Williams; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Joanna Raynolds Arthurton; Senior Youth and Sports Officer, Victor Reid; Captain of the West Indies Cricket Team, Darren Sammy; President of the SLNCA, Julian Charles; along with coaches former national players and of course the guest of honour Johnson Charles.
President of the SLNCA, Julian Charles who referred to the selection of Charles as another momentous occasion in the history of St Lucian cricket said: We are gathered here again to celebrate and really bask in the glory of yet another St Lucian making the West Indies side.”
His accomplishments while playing for his Millet and New Park are what dreams are made of. While going over Charles’ accomplishments locally and regionally, the SLNCA President recalled how the prolific batsman had a blistering innings against Lancers at Mindoo Phillip Park scoring 197 in a Twenty Over match.
Charles when on to say “as a national player he dominated cricket and made hundred’s throughout the length and breadth of St Lucia and at times has threatened to do the same at the Windward Islands level.”
Sammy welcomed Charles to the West Indies Senior family and said: “I am very happy, very proud with his selection.”
He recalled meeting Charles a few years ago in Mon Repos while playing a Twenty20 match. The young cricketer introduced himself and told Sammy he was very serious and would be the next St Lucian to join him on the team.
Sammy told the gathering that several cricketers told him the same thing. However, he sensed there was something about Charles that was different than the others who aspired to join him on the West Indies side.
The captain drew a comparison between himself and Charles during their early years.  “I checked his background and found he had a similar beginning like me,” said Sammy. “He was a Seven Day Adventist growing up and like me his parents did not want him to play on Saturdays.” He chuckled then said, “Maybe that’s the thing.”
Captain Sammy wished Charles the best of luck and told him: “It does not stop here. Try and get on to the One Day team and from now the sky is the limit. I would like to congratulate you and wish you all the best in your career.”
Over the years St Lucia has been blessed with a number of outstanding cricketers who were unable to make the Senior West Indies team. Minister Montoute pointed out that their efforts were not in vain because they paved the way for others.
“Then came Darren Sammy who opened the door and now I think I can make a pronouncement  that as of now, we are going to see a procession of St Lucians going through that door,” said Montoute.
Among the prospects is 16 year-old Larry Edward, who was recently named on the West Indies Under-19 squad.
Montoute made a presentation to Charles and remarked  it is to show our appreciation as a people for the pride and joy you have brought us.  One gifts was an I Pad and the other a white envelope which the minister said contained all the gear he will require as a West Indies cricketer.
Charles received a huge ovation when called up by MC Teddy Francis to say a few words. He thanked everyone who contributed to his development and success and spoke passionately about the sport he referred to as “my life.”
In closing the talented cricketer made no guarantee about scoring a century or even 50 while in England, but did promise to give his very best.
And that folks is all we can ask for!

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