Redbridge boys are golden as Lord’s of London Games
- Credit: Archant
Coach believes Essex’s Kishen Velani can be inspiration for talented cricketers
Mahesh Velani has backed his talented Redbridge youngsters to achieve success just like his brother Kishen has with Essex Cricket Club.
The borough boys triumphed in the London Youth Games finals at Lord’s on Sunday and their coach believes it can be just the beginning for some of his squad.
Velani feels a number of the group can continue progressing and make the step up to county cricket if they remain grounded.
He said: “We have quite a few players in the county set-up already and my little brother played in this tournament when he was 12 and 13, now he’s representing Essex.
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“There are a few others that have progressed that far. They are all role models for these boys and show if you work hard, you can get to that level – it isn’t that far away.
“It is great for Redbridge to have so many talented cricketers and for me to have played a part in their development so far, hopefully they keep improving.”
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Velani felt a close quarter-final clash proved key to his youngsters winning London Youth Games gold at Lord’s on Sunday.
The borough boys, who picked up a bronze last year, went two better this time to be crowned champions at the home of cricket.
After seeing off Merton in the last eight, they beat local rivals Waltham Forest, before triumphing against Hounslow in the final.
It ensured they finished the day as the best cricketing borough in the capital and left their coach beaming with pride.
Velani said: “I was so proud of the boys, it was a great occasion even if we did have a scare in the quarter-finals.
“It was a lot closer than we would have hoped. We got 136 off 10 overs and that’s a great score, but we conceded a lot in reply.
“Merton managed to get up to 122 so it was a lot tighter than we expected, but once you get a total like we did, it’s only natural that you take your foot off the pedal.
“After giving them a few stern words, we won the next two games with a great level of maturity.”
Redbridge’s batting proved to be a class above their rivals during the competition.
In the last four they scored 91 compared to Waltham Forest’s 89 and in the final they restricted Hounslow to 75, before easing home without losing a wicket.
Their coach added: “Our batting compared to the other teams really was amazing, we only lost three wickets in the whole tournament.
“Our captain Ryan Karunakaran hasn’t got out at Lord’s yet during the past few years. He knew exactly what to do and the rest of the team followed his lead.”
Velani’s boys lost in the semi-finals last year to local rivals Tower Hamlets, but managed to defeat Waltham Forest this time thanks to a comprehensive performance.
He added: “The boys were really up for it because they were playing against a lot of people they knew and had been involved with at club and school level. It really was fantastic to win that local derby match.”
And Redbridge showed off their fielding ability in the final with Hounslow to leave their coach feeling extremely proud.
Velani said: “We put in a great performance in the final and I think we managed to get something like four run-outs.
“We had been working really hard on our fielding before the tournament so to see it come off was so pleasing.
“It is fantastic to win, but what delighted me more was to see the improvements the boys made in certain aspects of their game. Our fielding display showed all the hard work we put in paid off.”
Redbridge’s girls saw their hopes ended by Bexley as they lost in the quarter-finals.