How a hundred and seven wickets made Kevin Sinclair
By Avenash Ramzan
Had it not been for a hundred and a seven-wicket haul on the same day in 2014, life could have been a lot different for Kevin Sinclair.
A frail 14-year-old, playing for Police back then, Sinclair thumped the Rose Hall Canje bowlers to all part of the ground and then, with ball in hand, spun webs around the opposition batsmen, bagging remarkable figures of 7-3.
“At that point in time, me and my coach knew it was no turning back for me,” Sinclair, now 20, told News Room at the weekend when quizzed on when he realised cricket was his calling.
As fate would have it, Sinclair later became a member of the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club and his progress has been fast-tracked, via outstanding and consistent performances at all levels of cricket in the county of Berbice.
Those exploits led to him being a national Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 standout, who duly earned the tag ‘one for the future.’
Leadership and discipline, along with a strong on and off-field disposition, have earned the right-handed batsman the admiration of many of his peers, senior players and administrators, and his rapid rise, especially in the last year, has set tongues wagging.
From winning the Regional Super50 with the West Indies Emerging Players to making a First-Class debut and being the Emerging Player for the Guyana Amazon Warriors for the Hero Caribbean Premier League, all within the space of six months, off-spinner Sinclair is now a hot commodity on the cricket circuit.
Watching West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford bowl piqued Sinclair’s interest as a five-year-old to the point he started “calling myself Shillingford” while playing in the yard in Berbice.
But it was Sinclair’s cousin Omar Weatherspoon who attempted to get him to play the sport in a structured system by taking him to Bermine, now Tucber Park.
That induction however, turned out to be a one-time visit, as Sinclair subsequently moved to Angoy’s Avenue to reside with his grandfather Carlton Sinclair and there is where a cricketing story took roots.
Sinclair would go on to represent Police at the various youth age groups in the ensuing years, before signing up with the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club, where his career literally took off.
Over those formative years, grandfather Carlton played a pivotal role in the younger Sinclair’s success and continues to do so, while the likes of former Guyana fast bowler Kevin Darlington, Guyana Police Force members Brian Joseph and Michael Newland and overseas-based Guyanese Narain Ragganandan and Mark Balgobin have been strong pillars of encouragement.
They were all supportive, whether by way of words of encouragement or providing cricket gear, throughout Sinclair’s years as a youth cricketer for club, county and country.
Super50 success run
Sinclair got his first crack at senior regional cricket last November when Cricket West Indies assembled a West Indies Emerging Players squad to compete in the Regional Super50 competition.
As the name suggests, the squad comprised players whom the authorities viewed as showing promise and were worth investing in.
With all to play for and nothing to lose, the Emerging Players went on a dream run, culminating in a massive 205-run win over Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the day/night final at Queens’ Park Oval, Trinidad.
Sinclair was outstanding, making 28 off 33 balls, and then claiming 4-20 as Emerging Players expertly defended 293 to lift the title.
“It was a great experience for me in that set-up. The tournament really made me improve all-round; it was a development process for me, getting a feel of what the Super50 is like. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be part of something like that and emerging champions was a great feeling.”
In January this year, Sinclair was handed a First-Class debut, and though he hasn’t set the region alight in Four-Day cricket just yet, the experience of rubbing shoulders with senior players like captain Leon Johnson, Vishaul Singh, Christopher Barnwell and current West Indies trio Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Romario Shepherd has been invaluable.
“Although we (Guyana Jaguars) didn’t win, there were still a lot of positives to take away from that tournament. For me it was a great experience playing with the guys. I think getting a bite and getting a taste of what (regional cricket) is, was really nice for me and my game moving forward.”
“I learnt a lot from the senior guys; being a youngster in the set-up they won’t leave you behind because they shared key points and hopefully I can take that moving forward.”
Towards the backend of a truncated Regional Four-Day championship, Sinclair learnt that he was selected as the Emerging Player by the Guyana Amazon Warriors for the Hero Caribbean Premier League 2020.
While that tournament hangs in the balance, given the coronavirus pandemic, Sinclair is enthused at being selected by his home franchise.
President of the Berbice Cricket Board and Secretary/CEO of the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club, Hilbert Foster, described Sinclair as a very discipline and hardworking cricketer.
“He is always the first cricketer to turn up whenever we have to play a match, and every single match he plays, whether it’s Under-15, Under-19, Second Division, First Division, Under-21, he gives you a 100%, and he’s never satisfied with failure,” Foster said.
Foster praised the leadership skills of Sinclair, noting he has established quite a reputation at the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club.
“He has played a great part in our club’s achievements on the field. As captain, he has won over 15 different tournaments and if my memory serves me right under his captaincy I think we’ve only lost two matches. He leads by example and is always very cooperative,” Foster divulged.
Foster is not all surprised at the rapid rise of one of the club’s finest products. “Once he puts his mind to something he will succeed, because he has a strong faith in God and the discipline instilled in him by his grandfather I think plays a great part in that.”
For now, Sinclair is doing daily fitness work via digital devices with his Guyana Jaguars teammates. The stay-at-home policy has afforded him an opportunity to reflect on his budding career.
It has also given him the time to plot his future, one that looks bright at the moment.