Bridgetown, Barbados, April 9 - (www.bcacricket.org) - After six seasons of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Professional Cricket League (PCL) first-class Championship, left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican is by far the most successful Barbados Pride bowler.
A current Test player, Warrican has turned out in the most matches (45) for the new champions, taking a whopping 183 wickets from 1343.2 overs including 369 maidens, at an average of 18.66. (See his season-by-season statistics at the bottom of this feature).
His most productive season was in 2014-15 when he hauled in 49 scalps including five five-fors and one ten-for, at 14.97 runs each.
In 2018-19, Warrican boasted of his best ever figures - eight for 45 off 25.4 overs including nine maidens in the first innings, ironically against Windward Islands Volcanoes at Arnos Vale in Kingstown, St. Vincent - the country of his birth. He finished with a match tally of 11 for 133 off 66 overs including 20 maidens, as Barbados triumphed by 23 runs.
So dominant has been Warrican in a side renowned for fast bowling, that he has almost doubled his nearest rival, pacer Miguel Cummins, who took 93 wickets (ave: 22.40) in 30 matches. (See story on BCA website: Top Barbados Pride team statistics after six seasons of PCL first-class Championship).
In a frank, in-depth interview with veteran, award-winning sports journalist Keith Holder, Warrican, who celebrates his 28th birthday on May 20, talks about his career, family life and his close association with two other local left-arm spinners in Empire clubmate and Barbados Pride rookie, 20-year-old Camarie Boyce, and Nathan Sealy, a Foundation School student, who represented the Barbados and West Indies Under-15 teams as recently as last year as captain.
Warrican has an impressive first-class record of 261 wickets (ave: 20.34) in 67 matches, but he expressed some frustration with his returns at the Test level: 22 wickets (ave: 39.63) in eight matches.
One of his most telling revelations is the big impact which his father, Joel Warrican, who is Professor of Education and Director of the School of Education at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, has had on his cricketing career.
After moving from St. Vincent to Tortola with his father at the age of ten, Jomel said Joel Warrican always told him “your cricket can’t improve here (Tortola) or go anywhere”.
“My father has had a huge impact on me excelling in cricket. This is because he made a choice to get a job in Barbados where he knows cricket is abundant.
“He took matters into his own hands and brought me to Barbados. That was the change point in my career and I am extremely grateful for that.
“Also the sacrifice he made by leaving the rest of the family behind for my sake. Ever since that decision he has supported me 300 percent. That I am grateful for, and that support pushed me in the direction where I am today,” Warrican remarked.
Following is the interview:
HOLDER: What would your attribute to your outstanding bowling for Barbados Pride in the past six seasons of the PCL first-class Championship?
WARRICAN: Basically when the PCL first started I was only playing because (Sulieman) Benn (also a left-arm spinner) was on West Indies duties. I knew I had big boots to fill.
I worked hard on my consistency and control which I knew would have been my key attributes in the future. Also as you know Keith, I am a stats guy so I researched the stats of every spinner who played for Barbados and wanted to top them.
HOLDER: By far your best season was in 2014-15, with 49 wickets including five 5-fors, at an average of 14.97. Was there anything special you did that season?
WARRICAN: This was the first year of the PCL and I was out of the Barbados team for the previous two years. My hunger and determination to prove a point were surely reasons for my success.
HOLDER: This season was your least productive with just 13 scalps (ave: 23.38) in six matches. What do you believe was responsible for such a decline?
WARRICAN: Well, I think my injury in the third game against Jamaica Scorpions (at Sabina Park) messed up my momentum. I was averaging 15.36 with ten wickets at that stage.
I missed the next two matches and when I came back into the team the pacers were excelling and continued to do so, so the opportunities to bowl were even less, which was fine with me because the team was performing outstandingly.
Basically, a lack of opportunity was the reason why my performance looks like that.
HOLDER: Can you kindly state how you got the injury?
WARRICAN: It happened when I was diving for a ball at point. The small finger on my left hand stuck in the ground and came out of place. It took four weeks to heel and there was a lot of therapy.
HOLDER: After being sidelined by that injury, you were replaced ironically by another left-arm spinner in your Empire clubmate, Camarie Boyce, who is only aged 20, for the match against the Leeward Islands in St. Kitts. Boyce had match figures of seven for 111 including five for 65 in the first innings but did not play for the rest of the season. How close are you as clubmates and describe your styles of bowling?
WARRICAN: I think Camarie Boyce is extremely talented. I will even go as far as saying he is special. He just knows how to get wickets. The understanding and knowledge he has about the craft of left-arm spin bowling at such a young age is amazing.
Basically our styles are similar but he is the more attacking option while I am more defensive. I play more on your patience.
We are extremely close, not just as teammates. Our relationship is more like big and little brother. It has really gone way past teammates. From the first time I ever saw him bowl I went to him and said “I want you at Empire”. We can learn from each other and develop our game to another level.
HOLDER: On that score, I was at Briar Hall last July watching a BCA Under-15 semifinal match between my alma mater Foundation and Coleridge & Parry. While having a chat with the Foundation coach, Nhamo Winn, you suddenly appeared at the ground and seemingly sneaked into the Pavilion. I asked Nhamo about your presence and he told me you were “tight” with one Nathan Sealy, the Foundation captain, who is also left-arm spinner and indeed a Barbados and West Indies Under-15 player (Sealy was co-captain with Andrew Rambarran of Trinidad & Tobago for the West Indies Under-15 tour to England last August).
After Foundation flogged Queen’s College by ten wickets with more than a day to spare in the Final at Dayrells Road to retain the title, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sealy, who bats right-handed (for the records he had a match haul of ten for 62 off 39.3 overs (30-16-43-5 and 9.3-2-19-5) and hit a match topscore of 58, ending the season with 61 wickets at a most miserly average of 5.74 with the best innings haul (all ten for 30 v St. George Secondary), plus 458 runs (ave: 65.43) including two centuries and two half-centuries (he hit the highest individual score as well - 153 v St. George Secondary).
He told me you are his mentor. How did that come about and what is your take on him as a cricketer?
WARRICAN: Now, this is probably the most touching part of my career. I always heard when you get into a team, senior guys mentor the youngest. I took it a step further with Nathan and became a father-figure, big brother and at times a friend.
I try not to play the friend zone too often because I am a role model for him and my aim is to guide him straight into the West Indies team. At times I have to be hard on him like a father but still laugh at it after.
It is funny when he gets into trouble at home, his mother calls me to talk with him. This also happens at Empire (Nathan is part of the Empire Youth programme) so this just shows how deep our relationship is. Basically what I am saying is that I love him like a son. That’s what I see in him.
I met him at a camp put on by Jason Haynes and Jamal Smith. It is called Get Ahead. I was working there when I first met him. Our relationship changed when he asked to go to Sheraton Mall for food. We communicated for the entire drive. That’s when I can say I fully adopted him.
As a cricketer, one thing I can say is that he is way better than me at his age. He is ahead of his age group and heading in the right direction. Just look at all of his accomplishments already. I see him going all the way, playing for Barbados and West Indies.
HOLDER: At what age did you come to Barbados?
WARRICAN: I came to Barbados from Tortola when I was 12 years old. I was born and lived in St. Vincent until I was ten years and then moved to Tortola. The big move came when I arrived in Barbados. I attended Combermere School and the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus where I studied Psychology.
HOLDER: Your father, Joel Warrican is Professor of Education and Director of the School of Education at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. I have often seen him at local club matches and also first-class matches. How much of an influence has he had on your life and indeed your cricketing career?
WARRICAN: My father has had a huge impact on me excelling in cricket. This is because he made a choice to get a job in Barbados where he knows cricket is abundant.
Living in Tortola he always said “your cricket can’t improve here or go anywhere”. He took matters into his own hands and brought me to Barbados. That was the change point in my career and I am extremely grateful for that.
Also the sacrifice he made by leaving the rest of the family behind for my sake. Ever since that decision he has supported me 300 percent. That I am grateful for, and that support pushed me in the direction where I am today.
My father is also the Chair of the Eastern Caribbean Joint Board of Teacher Education. That is the body that regulates teacher training in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
HOLDER: Do you have brothers and sisters and if so, what are their names and ages, and do any of them play cricket or follow the game?
WARRICAN: Yes, I have siblings. On my father’s side, I have two sisters and one brother. Their names are Jovel (aged 25), Jayla (12) and Jaden (20). On my mother’s side, a sister, Vanessa (20) and brother Josiah (12). None of them play or follow cricket. Lol.
HOLDER: Where were you educated in St. Vincent?
WARRICAN: In St. Vincent I attended Richmond Hill and Anglican Primary School. I was born in Richmond Hill in Kingstown.
HOLDER: I know you are the proud Dad of a girl. Can you tell us her name and that of your girlfriend?
WARRICAN: My daughter’s name is Zeriya Warrican. She is aged six. My girlfriend’s name is Shalyse Brewster. We have been together for four years. Her support and understanding for what I do is amazing.
HOLDER: How are you coping with the COPID-19 pandemic and a lack of cricket?
WARRICAN: Well, this virus has taken a toll on the world. I am just following instructions by staying indoors. Not being able to play cricket is driving me crazy. I really miss the game and was looking forward to franchise cricket as well.
HOLDER: You have had a chequered Test career with 22 wickets (ave: 39.63) in eight matches after your debut in 2015 against Sri Lanka in Colombo. How challenging have you found it to maintain your place in the team?
WARRICAN: I am going to say this in the simplest way I can. I just need an opportunity to play consistently for West Indies. I have played eight Test matches in the past five years. I can’t excel or develop as an international cricketer like that.
My journey in international cricket has been a disappointing one for me because I haven’t even come close to achieving the targets I wanted. I could live with myself if it was my fault but when it is out of my hands it is very hard to sleep at nights.
I left Australia (2015-16 tour) with the most wickets (five) and the only person not to get out (in five innings - 44 runs). But guess what happened? I was dropped for two years. (NB: West Indies lost the three-match series 2-0).
When you are dropped after taking the most wickets (eight) for West Indies and scoring the third most runs in Bangladesh (2018), what can I do about that?
I played the one-off Test against Afghanistan in India last year so I have to wait and see what next is going to happen with me.
HOLDER: What’s the status of your contract with Cricket West Indies?
WARRICAN: I have a ‘C’ retainer.
HOLDER: You are affectionally called “Warri” by your teammates and friends. Do you have any other nicknames?
WARRICAN: Oh, yes! Apart from “Warri”, my nicknames are Warkilla or Killa.
HOLDER: In recent years there has been stepped up activity at the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence (EWCOE) at Kensington Oval. What impact do you believe the EWCOE has had on those who are fortunate to attend, and are there any other programmes you believe the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) can introduce?
WARRICAN: The programme that the BCA has from the younger age group straight to senior cricket is excellent. All I need to see is more one-and-one work where a coach helps you break down your game and do more technical work.
This starts from a young age so help speed up the process in understanding your game as an individual. In saying this, the programme the BCA has in place is fantastic.
HOLDER: What is your general assessment of the BCA?
WARRICAN: In terms of the BCA towards the senior team, things can improve, like something as simple as the clothing wear.
Communication must also improve. You can’t have a BCA awards and you don’t celebrate first-class performances. I have never understood that. For example, if a guy scores the most runs for his country, it should be mentioned at the BCA awards and the player should gain a prize.
Also use your resources. You cannot have so many international cricketers and don’t use them to your marketing advantage.
JOMEL WARRICAN’S BOWLING STATISTICS IN PCL, 2014-15 TO 2019-20
SEASON M O M R W BB Ave 5W 10W
2014-15 9 298.4 87 734 49 8-72 14.97 5 1
2015-16 5 195.5 52 509 28 6-102 18.17 2 0
2016-17 10 259.4 72 651 32 5-87 20.34 1 0
2017-18 10 308 80 812 36 6-70 22.25 2 0
2018-19 5 149.1 39 406 25 8-45 16.24 2 2
2019-20 6 132 39 304 13 4-40 23.38 0 0
TOTAL 45 1343.2 369 3416 183 8-45 18.66 12 3