“We were living in a bad neighbourhood’ – Under-19 WC centurion Jewel Andrew fulfills promise to mother as he lives his dream

In the opening match of the 15th edition of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Potchefstroom, the West Indies faced a 31-run defeat at the hands of host country South Africa, despite a spectacular century by Jewel Andrew.

South Africa was sent into bat and managed to score 285 for nine in their allotted 50 overs.

In response, the West Indies Under-19 team faced a challenging task as South Africa’s left-arm pacer Kwena Maphaka wreaked havoc, dismissing key players in the early stages of the innings. The West Indies lost five wickets within the first 10 overs, despite a brief aggressive display by Jordan Johson (21).

However, Jewel Andrew and Nathan Sealy provided hope with a partnership that added nearly 100 runs in the subsequent 15 overs. Andrew achieved a remarkable century, becoming the first to do so in the tournament, and kept West Indies in contention.

With a score of 190 for six, Sealy was unfortunately run out for 33, adding tension to the contest.

Andrew continued to fight, receiving support from Tarrique Edward (13) and Nathan Edward (12). Nevertheless, the late bowling prowess of Kwena Maphaka and Riley Norton dismantled the West Indies’ lower order.

Andrew’s dismissal on 130 off 96 deliveries, featuring three sixes and 14 boundaries, essentially sealed the game for South Africa. The West Indies was eventually bowled out for 254 in 40.1 overs.

Jewel Andrew was four years old when his future was put in his hands, literally.

He was sitting boundary-side at the Young Masters Sports Club in Antigua, watching his brother Hillroy play but unable to join in because he was too young for a team of six-year-olds.

“But one of the boys hit a six and Jewel collected the ball and threw it in. The coach said he could join the next day,” Veronique Hill, Jewel’s mother, told ESPNcricinfo.

That was exactly what Hill, a single mom, hoped would happen when she took her sons to the club.

“We were living in a bad neighbourhood so I didn’t want them to get into trouble,” she said. “And I grew up watching cricket with my father on a black and white television so I knew I wanted my kids to play this sport.”

Hill was raised on the triumphs of West Indies’ attack and grew to admire Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose but not for the obvious reasons.

“They bowled very well but couldn’t bat to save their lives. Especially Walsh. He was so clumsy with the bat and I quite enjoyed that.”

Her sons turned out to be the complete opposite. They prided themselves on run-scoring and spent their time determined to outdo each other.

“If one scored runs on one day, the other would say, ‘wait until tomorrow and I will show you what I can do’,” she recalled, laughing. “They were so competitive as young kids and they still spend all day talking about cricket.”

Not just talking. Analysing. Strategising. Experimenting. And of course, playing. For that to happen, they needed equipment. “That was really hard for me,” Hill said. “Cricket gear is expensive.”

Hill’s income from a store she runs that sells bags and was not enough to afford everything the boys needed. Instead, they relied on support from well-wishers, including donations given to the sports club from former players and found a way. The more exposure they got, the clearer it became that Jewel “was really good.”

The little hands that threw the ball when he was four years old ended up being used both to bat and to keep wicket.

He rose through the age group structures in Antigua, scored five successive centuries in a schools’ league, captained the Leeward Islands under-15 side and played in the Cool & Smooth T20 tournament, a local event intended to assist in the development of players in the region. He also found someone to model his game on in Shai Hope.

“He would watch videos of Shai Hope and every shot that he played and then try to copy that. Soon, I started to see a little Shai Hope in him,” Hill said.

Late last year, Jewel had the opportunity to meet his hero when he was selected as the flag bearer for the start of the ODI series between West Indies and England.

“That was really special and he could feel one step closer to someone like Shai.”

But just when it seemed everything was aligning for young Jewel, he suffered a setback. “They had a tournament to select the Under-19 squad and he just wasn’t getting off. He was scoring 30s and 40s and crying himself to sleep,” Hill said.

“And then before the last day, he said to me that he was not going to worry about anything or what anyone said, he was just going to play his own game and see if that could get him in. I send him a bible verse every morning to help him believe in himself and I did it that day as well. He scored 126 and that was how he got selected for the Under-19 side.”

When Jewel called his mom to tell her the news, he was filled with emotion. “He cried and I cried along with him,” she said. “He said to me, ‘Mom, I am living my dream. I will give you something to watch’.”

And he kept his word. In their first game of the tournament, West Indies found themselves in pursuit of 285. Jewel kept West Indies in the fight and Hill awake from 2 am, with a 96-ball 130, that ultimately went in vain and left her with mixed feelings. “I am happy for him but I was a little disappointed too. I could see his disappointment too.”

There’s time to turn that around. West Indies have two more group matches against Scotland and England this week and victory in at least one of them will give them a chance of advancing to the Super Sixes. And for Jewel personally, there is a chance to establish himself as among the top batters in the competition, secure a spot for the next tournament and even earn a regular place in the Leeward Islands’ team.

“He is still young and can play another Under-19 World Cup but he also wants to make the step up to the regional side. Jewel is all about Leeward and West Indies cricket,” she said. “He is very focused and doesn’t have time to do anything besides cricket. He runs every morning for 45 minutes and then he works on his game. He knows he has made all of us in Antigua very, very proud.”

So Jewel is living up to his name but why was he given it in the first place? “I had a difficult time having him. He was two weeks overdue and wouldn’t come out,” Hill said. “When he eventually did, he was so loving and I just thought to myself that he was a special baby, a precious baby. That’s why I called him Jewel.”

1 thought on ““We were living in a bad neighbourhood’ – Under-19 WC centurion Jewel Andrew fulfills promise to mother as he lives his dream”

  1. When you are chosen.no matter what your dreams always come forth..i give these young man mother,all of God praises in seeing,in obediance,in encourageing,in endureing and trusting in her Faith..WI cricket kudos for the opportunities to young players..they will bring wi back from nothing..God is still on His throne..


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