Daren Powell mulls expanding Legends cricket festival to encourage young cricketers

St. Elizabeth’s is known as a cricket-loving community and a large number of sports fans turned out to see two of the legends of the West Indian game, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle, once again showcase their talents at the Treasure Beach Sports Complex in St. Elizabeth.

Daren Powell, lead organizer of the recent Legends cricket festival at Treasure Beach Sports Park, says he wants to make it a calendar event, with the development of young players.

In the day’s opening exhibition game a Manchester All-Stars team took on its St Elizabeth counterparts.

“I must commend Chris and Brian for turning up and making this event what it was. It’s a great experience and I wish this could happen [again] in the near future,” Powell, the former West Indies told journalists at the end of the second game.

“I’m looking forward to next year… I’m looking down that road. People are talking about doing it annually — that is a very good idea — but at the same time we have to look at resources, sponsorship and things like that,” he said.

“The sky is the limit. It might turn out to be not just legends playing in the afternoon but good, competitive cricket for youngsters who want to showcase their talent for [possible selection to] the national program.

“I believe this is a valuable product. I want to do a cricket clinic — like a day or two before the actual game the next time around — because I still have the youth in my focus and I want to see West Indies cricket grow,” Powell explained.

Lara and Gayle expressed interest in returning to Treasure Beach for future iterations.

“I really did enjoy the day and I’m really looking forward to coming back,” Lara, said immediately after the exhibition game.

The legendary, Brian Lara added: “…to see the turnout was spectacular, it looks like the entire parish came out”.

Gayle, who was also impressed by the spectator support, said he wants to invite fellow iconic former West Indies player Dwayne Bravo, among others, to such events in the future.

“I haven’t seen this [size] crowd in a long time, especially here in Jamaica,” the Jamaican left-hand opener said.

“We have more games planned here, and I’ll try to bring DJ Bravo and a few more international players.”

Powell noted the motivation their presence offers to aspiring young cricketers.

“It’s a big boost, it is encouraging. I see a lot of youngsters [have] come out to get autographs and photos, mingling with the legends — it will always encourage you.

“When I was young and among West Indies and Jamaica players it was another push for me to train harder. I see these youngsters asking when they are going to play so it’s very encouraging for me,” he reiterated while expressing gratitude to all the parties who supported the initiative.

“People love cricket — look at what happened with Brian and Gayle. People want to see them because of the legacy that they have, and we wish for the youngsters now to follow suit. It’s for me to work with my team and see if we can funnel something prosperous for them

“It was a big crowd and I must say thank you to supporters, and next year we want to tweak some things and make it an even bigger event,” Powell ended.

As talk about the match,

Batting first, Gayle’s XI scored 156 runs for the loss of 6 wickets at the end of their allotted 20 overs and the ‘Universe Boss’ himself was the highest scorer with 52 runs off 37 balls. Besides, Gayle’s nephew Ricardo McGleachy scored 34 off 17 balls and Damion Ebanks scored 22.

While bowling, Howard Powell and Nehemiah Perry took a wicket each and Chrismer Santoki managed to take 2 wickets for 26 runs.

In reply, Lara’s XI scored 145 for 4 in 20 overs with Wavell Hinds scoring 43 off 46 balls, Lara 32 and Delroy Morgan 23.

When it was all over, Gayle’s XI won by 11 runs against Lara’s XI, but over 5,000 fans got a glimpse of batting maestro Lara and the Universe Boss.

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