No doubt about it, St Lucians had a very special reason for tuning in to the ICC Under 19 World Cup in New Zealand. They were eager to see young cricket sensation Kimani Melius in action for the defending champions West Indies.
Unfortunately, Windies found out winning the title was easier than trying to defend it. They finished 10th in the overall standings. Nevertheless, Melius gave a good account of himself and the highlight was his brilliant 78 in the opening match against New Zealand.
Melius returned home last Wednesday to a welcoming committee, following his recent arrival at George FL Charles Airport. Minutes after the LIAT flight landed, he was greeted by Acting Director in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Patrick Mathurin and President of the St Lucia National Cricket Association, Julian Charles. They escorted Melius to the VIP Lounge where family members eagerly waited his arrival.
Charles who was introduced by Ministry Official, Ryan O’Brian, congratulated Melius on a very successful tour with the West Indies. He said: “We had no doubt when you left here that you would give of your best. Knowing the quality person and batsman that you are, we were confident you would come home with very good returns.”
He referred to Melius’ knock of 78 against New Zealand as a gem and said “You really stamped your authority on that game and showed you are here to stay.”
Charles praised the 17 year-old for overcoming the difficult task of making the West Indies side and remarked: “Now that you are there we know it will take even more sacrifice on your part to stay there, but we are confident you have the metal, love and commitment for the game to stay there.”
Mathurin welcomed Melius and said: “Let me first of all on behalf of the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the minister and I dare say the Government of St Lucia to welcome a hero back home. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Kimani has come back as a hero. He went out knowing full well what was in store for him with a lot of expectations from the public. What he has done is to prove to the public that it can be done.”
He went on to say. “Kimani as a young individual who started from the grass roots program, went through his paces did what was necessary, did the hard work and he got there. So hats off to Kimani for a job well done. You
have gone out and done St Lucia proud, the young people of St Lucia and Boguis extremely proud and it says to us as I have always said before, talent is everywhere on the island.”
Mathurin like so many other St Lucians in the know, believe Melius making the West Indies Under 19 side is just the tip of the iceberg. They look forward to the talented cricketer making the West Indies Senior Team. Time will tell!
Arlette Marshall welcomed her nephew with open arms. She said: “I want to first thank the Lord for causing Kimani to reach so far. I stand here very emotional, because I have been the steering wheel behind Kimani pushing him forward. I did not know the game of cricket was so expensive and that so much help would be required to push Kimani forward.”
In addition to thanking the Almighty for bring her beloved nephew home safe and sound, she thanked Saralee Williams from the ministry, Mathurin, Michael “Midget” Pierre, Coach Alton Crafton, Kimani’s mother and everyone who supported him in getting to New Zealand.
In closing she told her nephew “remain humble and remain steadfast in your focus. Let not your surroundings, your friends let that not be a deterrent to you but I want to encourage you to continue on that path.”
The young man of the moment first expressed his thanks to the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports for their support and briefly described his stay overseas. “The tournament was a learning experience for me and for everyone on the team. My teammates were like a family away from home. We always supported each other in good times and bad times.”
Assessing his own performance the Babonneau Secondary School student was his own worst critic. “In the tournament I will not say I did excellent because I made just two fifty’s and expected more. Nevertheless, I will take it seeing that was my very first year in the Cricket World Cup.”
The reception for Melius at the George FL Charles Airport was just the beginning of things to come. Earlier this week Babonneau Secondary School welcomed their pride and joy in grand style.