JOHN’S, Antigua – Defending champions Guyana are expected to face a rigourous challenge from ever-competitive hosts Windward Islands at Progress Park, when the Regional Under-15 Tournament opens on Wednesday, July 27 in Grenada.
The Guyanese captured the title last year on home soil by topping the points table, following victories over Leeward Islands, Jamaica and Windwards, and in spite of no-results against Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.
In the other first round matches of this year’s tournament, Barbados meet Trinidad & Tobago at La Sagesse and Jamaica tackle Leeward Islands at the Tanteen Recreation Ground in the Spice Isle’s capital of St. George’s.
Rawl Lewis, the Grenada-born former Windward Islands captain and West Indies leg-spinner, now WICB project officer for junior cricket, said the RU15 was important to encourage development for young players from across the Caribbean while promoting competition at the regional level.
“This competition gives our junior players an opportunity early in their development to showcase their ability on the regional stage and test themselves against the best players in their age group,” said Lewis.
“Having regional matches for players in this age group is also extremely valuable and productive for us because it will give a clear understanding about the depth of talent that exists in the region, so we know where we need to place the emphasis in the development cycle, as the players work to move up through the age groups in their respective territories.”
The Tournament – in its 21st year – will be contested under a round-robin format, featuring five rounds of matches with the team accumulating the most points being declared champions.
The Regional Under-15 Tournament commenced in 1996 with then hosts T&T taking the inaugural title. They hold the record for the most RU15 titles with seven, also winning the title in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2010 and 2013.
Reigning champions Guyana have claimed the top prize three times comprising back-to-back titles twice – in 1998 and 1999, and again 2014 and last year.
Jamaica have won the title on four occasions (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011) and Barbados have won three times (1997, 2004, 2012).
Windwards emerged champions eight years ago, leaving Leewards yet to win the title.