Gros Islet, St Lucia — As a little boy playing ‘bat and ball’ in the central St Lucian village of Millet, Johnson Charles had a dream that he would one day play for the West Indies in front his family, friends and countrymen.
The dream is set to become reality on Friday, Charles is set to open the batting against Australia in the fourth Digicel One-Day International. The stands at the Beausejour Cricket Ground are sure to be filled with passionate fans and supporters from Millet to see the local boy in action.
Charles went through his pre-game preparations on a hot and steamy Thursday morning and afterwards spoke of his ambitions, as he looked ahead to the crucial match at the scenic venue. The five-match Digicel ODI series is level 1-1 after the first phase at the Arnos Vale Cricket Ground in St Vincent.
“I’m fully focussed and I’m eager to play in front of my home crowd, but I’m not over eager,” said Charles. “As a boy growing up, I would always think of myself playing for St Lucia, for Windwards and for West Indies in front my home fans. Now I will get the chance to play against Australia on home soil and that’s quite good.
“Obviously, it means a lot to my family and close friends that I have made it into the West Indies team. A few players from my area have represented the St. Lucia team, but I am the first person from my area and from my family to reach this stage of the game, so everyone is happy and they expect the best from me.
“A lot of people have come up to me and said ‘all the best’ and other kinds of things like that. Some people asked for a ‘special’ performance, so I’m looking to produce a ‘special’ kind of innings for the team. We played well in St. Vincent and we want to bring that with us to St Lucia.”
Last September, Charles became only the second player from St. Lucia to represent the West Indies at the international level, when he made his Twenty 20 International debut against England at the Oval in London. The first St. Lucian to wear West Indies colours was current captain Darren Sammy.
The 23-year-old Charles has look calm at the crease and has played with confidence and freedom so far. He has made 84 runs in three innings. His best score so far of 45 off 56 balls came in the third Digicel ODI on Tuesday which ended in a dramatic tie.
“I play it as I see it,” he said. “I play according to what the team requires. I don’t try too many fancy things. So far in this series, I have made a start, so I will look to carry on and look for a big score. I always try to provide a foundation for the team and then push on from there.”
West Indies Squad: Darren Sammy (Captain), Dwayne Bravo (Vice Captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr (wicket-keeper), Tino Best, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels.