CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — Nevis was the first among the Leeward Islands to place a player on the senior West Indies Cricket team in 1972, opening floodgates that saw the it producing another six cricketers who went on to wear the West Indies colours.
West Indies Cricket team members were Elquemedo Willett (1972); Derick Parry (1978); Keeth Arthurton (1988); Stuart Williams (1994); Carl Tuckett (1998); Runako Morton (deceased) (2005); and Kieran Powell (2011).
While sister island St. Kitts is yet to place a player on the West Indies team, it is currently doing better than Nevis in terms of cricket growth. Nevis is lagging at the grassroots, while St. Kitts is doing well having this year won the Leeward Islands Cricket Tournament for the third time in a row. In the same competition this year, Nevis finished at the bottom.
This trend has raised concerns in the right quarters. Cricket in Nevis is a pale shadow of what it used to be. St. Kitts-based former West Indies middle order batsman, Nevisian Arthurton has feels something needs to be done in quick time. He is partnering with the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) to help reverse the downward trend.
Arthurton contacted the Ministry of Social Development in Nevis and offered to coach cricket on the island, a proposal that was readily accepted. He has been running a training programme targeting 21-year olds and under every Friday at the ETW Park in Charlestown.
“I did a proposal and I submitted it to the Ministry of Social Development like I normally do in St. Kitts,” Arthurton said. “I asked them if they can accompany me to upgrade the practice facilities because the guys are complaining so much about how inadequate the facility is and nobody is doing anything.”
He approached corporate citizens, among them the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. The bank’s Marketing Officer Ms. Vernitha Maynard assured him the Development Bank would be willing to partner with him as he has conducted successful programmes in St. Kitts.
“I want to thank the Development Bank for contributing significantly,” Arthurton said after he received the sponsorship cheque from Nevis Branch Manager Ms. Hyacinth Pemberton.
“That money is going to be used to upgrade the nets and facilities to include a shed or pavilion where players can put their gear and where we can have classroom sessions,” Arthurton said. “It will also be used for preparing before we do physical activities and will serve as a shelter from the sun.”
Presently, Arthurton has about 25 Under-21 players attending the sessions. He still makes time for Under-15 and Under-17. He hopes to unearth talent in Nevis as did in St. Kitts where he coached since 2002.
Among his notable players in St. Kitts, the name of right-handed batsman Akheam Fox stands out; Fox joined the Oxford Brookes University in England and was a member of the university’s prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club Universities Cricketing Centre of Excellence.
“Even though I am living in St. Kitts, I think I owe it to Nevisians to put something back meaningful because I have put a lot back before,” Arthurton said. “I want to do this so that people could recognise that it could be done.”
Manager at the Nevis Branch of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms Hyacinth Pemberton, on presenting the sponsorship cheque to Arthurton observed that the bank places a great premium in the overall development of the country’s youth and hence the reason it is partnering with Arthurton.
“If Nevis’ cricket is going back to where it used to be, there is not a better person than Arthurton to do the job,” Ms Pemberton observed. “He knows what it takes to be a great cricketer because he is one. Having offered to transfer skills to the youth in Nevis, he should be applauded and given all the support he needs. We at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis are proud to partner with him in this noble endeavour.”