Ricardo’s Fierce Game

In just barely a year at the international level, the big-hitting young Jamaican with the broad shoulders has set tongues wagging all over the Caribbean due to his thunderous batting.
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To say that is aggressive on the field would be an understatement to say the least. In just barely a year at the international level, the big-hitting young Jamaican with the broad shoulders has set tongues wagging all over the Caribbean due to his thunderous batting.

He grabbed our attention in 1999 with his explosive maiden One-Day century- a scorching 124 against India that was matched by a stunning propensity for six-hitting. Even before that, he had managed to impress the notoriously eagle-eyed and demanding Bajan cricketing aficionados, during the Busta Cup earlier that year. Though Jamaica was defeated in the match, Powell raised eyebrows in the semifinal in scoring a defiant 114 not out. He has also raised expectations in the hearts of West Indian cricketing fans. Many have identified Powell as the next big West Indian batting star. Clearly Powell is blessed with exceptional God-given talent. Yet to whom much is given, much is expected and serious questions have been raised as to his shot selection. The prevailing opinion is that Ricardo’s aggressive batting temperament has led him to careless and risky strokeplay. How often have we seen Powell attempting to hit a big six only to be caught in the outfield? To his credit, Powell owned up to this immediately, admitting:

“Obviously, every batsman has his fault. Shot selection is mine and as time goes on, I’ll try to work it out. It’s really a matter of being patient and waiting on the right ball to hit.”

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While Powell tends to be aggressive and dominating with a bat in his hand, this aggression doesn’t carry over into his everyday life, for in person, he is quiet and softspoken. Though international sportsmen tend to have a reputation for being flirtatious playboys, Ricardo was endearingly shy and unassuming. When asked if he had a girlfriend, he was actually blushing, and he paused for a long time before smiling bashfully and answering that he did not. The strapping young Jamaican is somewhat of a romantic at heart and while he enjoys kickboxing and comedy movies, he also enjoys romantic films. (Finally, a guy who does not flee, screaming in horror at the thought of watching Titanic with you!) Besides going to the movies, Powell also enjoys the night club scene, like most young people. For a first date, though, he tends to go the classy route and would take a lady out to dinner. The question is what type of lady will Powell take out to dinner? It doesn’t matter to him whether or not she’s a cricket lover, what maters to him is a woman’s “personality, her lifestyle and her personal background.”

Right now, Powell’s cricketing career is on the fast track. He had played in only his first season of regional first class cricket when he was chosen for the West Indies team, first for the World Cup and then for the spate of One-Day tournaments and the New Zealand tour. Powell had been one of the top young players in the region, playing on the Jamaican Under-15 team, captaining the Nortel Championship-winning Jamaica Under-19 team, and playing on the West Indies Under-19 team. Yet to hear him tell it, Powell was surprised by his quick rise to the West Indies senior team:

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“From high school, people were telling me that in a few years time, I would play for the West Indies, but I didn’t believe that it would come true so quickly.”

Powell always had aspirations of making the West Indies team, though football also claimed part of his attention until high school, when his “love for the game became much stronger” He still plays football now for recreation, but cricket takes precedence now above all things, even college. He was attending MICO College in his homeland, but “that’s on hold for now.” as his cricketing career takes flight. Powell is dedicating everything to achieving his twinfold goals of playing for the West Indies for as long as possible and seeing the team reach the upper echelons of world cricket again. He’s eager to learn all he can in pursuit of these goals, and for him, the opportunity to learn more about the game has been the best thing about playing for the West Indies team:

“Starting out, you might think you know what it is all about, but as you go along you find that the game has a lot more to offer you and you keep learning as you go along.”

Powell’s cricketing aspirations are clear, but what hopes does this thoughtful and well-spoken young man harbour for these tiny isles? Like many, he would like to see an end to insularity and he for one does not subscribe to the belief that cricket is the sole possible unifying force in the West Indies.

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“I think that people really let themselves think that only in , can they find unity and love, but if people really meet each other and talk to each other, they would see that the differences are very small.” he asserted.

Powell is optimistic about the future of the West Indies and not just in terms of sports.

“I think that as time goes on, the West Indies is going to really develop, not only in sports, but education-wise and business-wise, things are going to really develop.”

As will Powell’s career. With his talent, he has good reason to feel as hopeful for his cricketing future as he does for the future of West Indian society.

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