After scoring a fantastic maiden T20 century in English conditions for his revered Westhoughton CC club a fortnight ago, one of West Indies’ most promising youngsters, Kimani Melius proved his knock was no flash in the pan; and that the ball was going to sail over the bowlers’ head in an act of perpetual run-making.
A gifted stroke-maker who can both build an inning and up the ante of scoring, truth be told, the way Kimani Melius has been approaching his first ever outing for an English club, albeit miles away from the Caribbean, you can spot neither a sign of complacency nor any discomfort in his craft.
Though surely, none of it may have come any easy.
Immediately after scoring a magnificent 112 off just 42 deliveries for the Westhoughton CC club, Kimani Melius produced another exciting knock of 61, ensuring he’d become the hit-maker against the Blackrod Cricket Club (in Bolton, UK), and that too, in the semi-final stage.
But this vital half-century was no standalone effort; it would be one in a series of interesting knocks that saw the sturdy right-hander occupy the wicket for vital periods of time.
What’s helped Kimani’s results has been the ability to stay put on spinning conditions, not the kind of tracks you particularly see back in the Caribbean, but those that one usually identifies in the sub-continent.
Previously, he scored a powerful 85 against the Eagley Cricket club, which comprises a steady pace and spin attack. But the vital component of yet another fifty was that Kimani Melius stayed undefeated until the very end of his club’s innings.
There was a low score too, make no mistake, in the form of a 24 against the Little Hulton Cricket Club, but in a format where things change with every flick of the eye and there’s hardly much time to settle down, is that even a low-score?
In an exclusive conversation with Caught At Point, Kimani told us about the factors that helped him get his team over the line with vital match winning performances.
The noted St. Lucian shared, “My scores in England have been consistent, however, I cannot afford to be complacent. Here the tracks are spinning and you’ve got to be watchful, which only adds to the game. The wickets spin a good deal, and there’ve been some Sri Lankan turners playing here who’ve played in the 2016 World Cup as well. But my game awareness that warranted I build a partnership was the key!”
But when I quizzed him about whether spin was the only challenge he faced, before ultimately getting on top of it, Kimani added with his quintessential calmness, “Here in England, the key factor is to negotiate the swing. So I had to make some adjustments to the game and I ultimately backed myself to score, which helps. At times, I’d bat outside the crease to deny the swing so it’s just me basically negotiating the swing. And so far it’s been working very well. But I’d love to keep scoring and enjoy my time!”
That said, forget the punches off the backfoot and the long strides he takes to dance down the track to see the ball sail over long-on, there’s yet more to the craft of the promising West Indian that charms one.
That despite garnering success, remember he led the West Indies in the Under-19 World Cup 2020, and once fired a 34-ball-century, Kimani doesn’t forget the roots as well as those responsible for helping him cover the distance makes him a youngster with his heart at the right place.
The regard and admiration he holds for his coach, Mr. Alton Crafton is enormous and comes straight from the heart.
A noted cricketer turned guru from the magnificent island of St. Lucia, Mr. Crafton has been known for his commitment toward laying the path for future progress and cricketing development of countless youngsters.
Kimani Melius expressed why Alton Crafton, one of the most notable stars from the Northern Windward Islands means so much in an almost “To Sir, With Love,” sincerity.
The 20-year-old shared, “He has been with me since the age of eighteen, and he is also the head coach of the Northern Cluster Grasroots cricket club, this is a club that has produced cricketers like Lee Solomon, who’ve represented the West Indies Under-16 and others like Qiana Joseph (left-arm pace).
A committed coach who gives it everything to shaping the life of youngsters, it’s just a matter of time before my coach gets the recognition like the others around the world. To him, I owe the improvements in my game, shaping it holistically through long sessions.”
Frankly, the sincerity with which Kimani Melius spoke about his coach, a tireless guide back in the Caribbean who’s made a purpose of his life to shape the fortunes of talents who live and breathe cricket each day, you get a sense that the day is not far where Kimani’s bold bat will shower runs all around the world.
And that’ll be the day where not only the West Indian fan would be overjoyed since a lot is expected from a team that brings boundless excitement to the sport, hinting every now and again at the great revival that we all await.
But moreover, Mr. Crafton himself, a quiet man who believes in actions, speaking seldom about himself, rarely going verbose, would be full of priceless praises for the young future batsman of the West Indies national cricket team.
Bat on, Kimani. There’s lots to do and many more miles to go.