Like his idol Lara, Alick Athanaze bursts into the spotlight

Kevin Sinclair brought out his signature celebration during his four-wicket haul

Alick Athanaze admitted to being nervous ahead of making his international debut, but rocked it quickly and turned it into a memorable one by closing out the fastest half-century on ODI debut. Athanaze’s 65 from 45 balls, including 51 that came on the power play alone, set the tone for West Indies’ successful 185 chase.

“I was a bit nervous actually, but the nerves went away when I got my first few runs and it was good,” Athanaze told CWI media after the West Indies swept the United Arab Emirates 3-0 in Sharjah. “It was a very good experience [on debut]. [I] I haven’t hit much tonight, so it was actually a first for me. But normally that’s how I play in Powerplay: I always look for the team to get off to a good start.”

Athanaze grew up idolizing Brian Lara and most recently when he was with the West Indies Test team in South Africa, he worked with Lara, who was on tour as the team’s performance mentor. Athanaze said the conversations with Lara have had a positive influence on his approach to hitting.

“For me, it’s been really good,” Athanaze said. “Basically what we talked about was judging the lengths and trying to get ahead of the pitcher. It worked really well, I got myself in some good positions and it was really good hitting tonight.”

Athanaze took left hand Aayan Afzal Khan out of the attack on the power play with pocket sixes. Then, when the UAE closers launched onto the Sharjah pitch, Athanaze countered them with a variety of jerks, including the short-arm jab.

Athanaze was the best in runs at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, ahead of Shubman Gill, but it took him five years to break into international cricket. Athanaze is not part of the West Indies ODI squad for the upcoming ODI World Cup Qualifier, but could feature in the following series at home against India. Spinner Kevin Sinclair, who had been part of the Under-19 and West Indies A setups with Athanaze, was impressed with Athanaze’s fearless stroke play in his debut.

“For me, I always know Alick since the Under-19 [cricket]” Sinclair said. “He’s a good player and a good hitter. Seeing yourself express yourself tonight at a higher level is a really good thing to watch from the sidelines. He always knew that he could hit and he brought form to Bangladesh and he did very well.”

Athanaze also talked about how the new management of the team, under the leadership of Daren Sammy and Shai Hope, has encouraged the youngsters to play with confidence and freedom.

“The team did very, very well,” Athanaze said. “One thing the captain stresses about is always getting better and as you saw throughout the series we got better, not only in batting but also in fielding and bowling. As a young player it’s always good to be in a team winner and that gives you the confidence to go out there and express yourself.

Sinclair dedicates Man of the Match award to his grandfather

Friday’s match was also a special one for Sinclair, who marked his international comeback with figures of 4 for 24. Carlos Brathwaite, who was in the TV commentary, noted that Sinclair is now getting his offspring to grip and spin more than he intended. did in the past. This, in turn, has made his slider more effective and has put him in contention for West Indies or West Indies A in all formats.

“We were a little upset, so my thing was to keep it simple and as tight as possible,” Sinclair said. “So I got a breakthrough too, and that was really good for me.”

Sinclair credited former Guyana all-rounder and coach Esuan Crandon for his recent progress. During the Headley-Weekes triseries, Sinclair also benefited from working with Nikita Miller.

“As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Esuan Crandon,” Sinclair said. “The support he has given me and every time I go out [onto the field]I try to do what I can do with the bat, the ball and also on the field.

“It’s all about consistency and I just want to keep going and try to be consistent in what I do.”

After winning the Man of the Match award, Sinclair dedicated it to his grandfather Carlton, who worked as a security guard. Carlton has doubled as a mentor to Sinclair over the years.

“I just want to mention that two days ago was my grandfather’s birthday,” Sinclair said. “It was his 75th birthday. He’s been behind me since my tender age of seven, so I want to say this performance is for him.”

Deivarayan Muthu is deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo