Alick Athanaze: The Sun's 2023 TrailBlazer
In cricket, some start their journey with a ball, others with dreams. Alick Athanaze, however, kicked off his cricketing odyssey with a bat—so unique that the day he received his first, he chose to carry it to school over a school bag. Little did he know that this quirky choice would set the stage for a trailblazing career.
When the name Alick Athanaze resounded through the cricket world after the 2018 ICC Under 19 World Cup, it marked the genesis of a remarkable journey for this young talent from Dominica. Ending the tournament as the leading run-scorer, the International Cricket Council (ICC) promptly bestowed upon him the title of the rising star of the West Indies side. In doing so, they envisaged Athanaze as the potential Trailblazer—the first Dominican to represent the senior Men's side since Shane Shillingford in 2012.
The cricketing journey of the Grand Bay native commenced at the tender age of three when he first wielded a bat. In an intimate revelation to Cricket West Indies, Athanaze disclosed that his profound love for the game blossomed at the stadium with his dad, where he witnessed the likes of Shane Shillingford gracing the field. His words to his dad, prophesying that he would someday play cricket on that ground, fueled Athanaze's passion.
This passion for the game found further expression during his debut at 14, where he participated in a practice match to secure entry into the Dominica Cricket Academy. Despite not amassing many runs, his performance left an indelible impression, showcasing a spark that distinguished him as something extraordinary.
In 2014, he emerged as one of the 17 players selected for the academy, eventually assuming leadership within the group. The journey continued as he earned a coveted spot in the West Indies Under-19 team, a testament to his perseverance and skill.
Despite initial nervousness, Athanaze's passion propelled him forward.
Athanaze was pivotal in revolutionizing West Indies cricket as the cricketing landscape evolved. His List A debut in 2017 marked the beginning of a journey that saw him as the leading run-getter in the 2018 U19 Cricket World Cup and a prominent figure in various domestic competitions.
He made his Under-19 team debut in 2018, emerging as the second batsman in the competition to hit two centuries for the West Indies. His exceptional performance, amassing 418 runs, earned him the title of the tournament's leading run-scorer, coupled with the ICC's 'Rising Star of the Squad.'
Athanaze's trajectory continued with his first-class debut for the Windward Islands in the 2018–19 Regional Four-Day Competition. He secured a spot in the Windward Islands' squad for the 2019–20 Regional Super50 tournament. The pinnacle of his domestic success came in the 2022–23 West Indies Championship, where he emerged as the leading run-scorer with 647 runs in 10 innings.
Fast forward to 2023, and Alick Athanaze is The Sun's chosen Trailblazer.
The year kicked off on a positive note for the Grand Bay native. In January, the left-handed batsman was appointed Captain of the Windwards Volcanoes for the 2023 West Indies Championship. This opportunity marked the beginning of his captaincy journey as he led the team against Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in their first match.
February saw Athanaze achieve a milestone by scoring his first century in regional first-class cricket. The remarkable feat occurred at the Grenada National Stadium during a match between the Windwards Volcanoes and Guyana Harpy Eagles, where he amassed 141 runs.
His standout performances continued that month as he secured a spot in the 15-member West Indies team to face South Africa in a two-Test Series.
In May, the young athlete and Kavem Hodge were selected for the West Indies Cricket squad to play against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Sharjah.
June witnessed Athanaze equaling the Fastest ODI Half-Century on his debut, setting a world record during the West Indies ODI series against the UAE, where he hit 65 off 45 Balls. His outstanding cricketing skills and achievements did not go unnoticed. In the same month, Athanaze and Hodge were appointed Sports Ambassadors for the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Fresh from his Test debut in July, Athanaze was again named in the West Indies team to face India in three One Day International (ODI) matches in Barbados and Trinidad. In the same month, he secured a spot in the West Indies cricket team for their match against India, which was held in Dominica. His Test debut during this period was notably impressive, as he scored 47 runs off 99 balls, showcasing his skill with one six and six fours.
September brought another spectacular performance from Athanaze as he led the Barbados Royals to victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). During the match, he also scored his first CPL and T20 half-century.
Recognizing his leadership skills, Athanaze was named Vice Captain of the Windward Volcanoes for the CG United Super 50 Cup in Trinidad in October.
In the preceding month, the 25-year-old Dominican cricketer earned another selection to represent the West Indies senior men's team in a face-off against England in the upcoming CG United One-Day International (ODI) Series.
Adding to his recent accomplishments, at the beginning of this month, he solidified his standing in West Indies cricket by securing his first central contract to play for the Windies team. He joins four other cricketers in receiving these inaugural contracts, applicable for the 2023 to 2024 season.
Athanaze's admiration for cricket legends like Brian Lara has shaped his approach to the game. During one of his interviews, he revealed that Lara's mentorship during the West Indies tour of South Africa further refined his skills.
As The Sun's 2023 Trailblazer, Alick Athanaze stands at the forefront of West Indies cricket, embodying the spirit of passion, perseverance, and commitment. From the streets of Dominica to international cricket arenas, Athanaze's journey encapsulates the essence of a true trailblazer—a beacon of inspiration for aspiring cricketers and a symbol of excellence in Caribbean cricket.
-By Ronda Luke