At age 17, Trinidad and Tobago wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran is the youngest player in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20, and the hard-hitting left-hander relishes the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best players in the world.
He would have even had the opportunity to play against one of his favourite international cricketers, Adam Gilchrist, if the Australian wicketkeeper had not pulled out of the tournament with an injury.
Pooran, who is from Mc Bean, Couva, was selected on the T&T franchise team as one of their two Under-23 players for the CPL T20 which runs from July 30 to August 24.
The other Under-23 player selected was leg-spinner Yannic Cariah.
The Naparima College student, Pooran, said the last few months have been really exciting for him, and that he is eagerly looking forward to the next two.
“I made my debut for the Trinidad and Tobago senior team earlier this year at the age of 17 and I was really excited,” he said.
“That gave me a start and now getting picked for the Trinidad CPL franchise is another start and another chance for me to make a name for myself.”
Pooran credited the extra work he has done this year for his quick rise up the ranks of T&T cricket.
He said he worked hard in the nets, and spent more time honing his skills.
“Last year I was relaxing but this year I took it upon myself to train a lot harder and I just believed in myself and went out there and performed.
“I am very excited because at 17, any youngster would be happy to make a CPL franchise and I am just glad and I thank God for giving me this opportunity,” he added.
“I just want to go out there and perform to the best of my ability and make a name for myself, and go forward in my cricketing career.
“I want to do my best. I know my family wants me to do well, and I know they are supporting me.”
The T&T franchise assistant coach, David Williams, who is also the T&T national team coach and T&T Cricket Board technical director, is also backing the young wicketkeeper to do well.
“He is very special,” Williams said of the 17-year old.
“He is very talented and we just hope that he can keep his feet on the ground and continue to improve as he goes along.
“I think he is a tremendous player. He is also a very young man, so I think we would want to keep him at bay and make sure he does the right things, and with that talent, (I am sure) he has places to go,” Williams added.
Asked if Pooran was their first pick wicketkeeper in the draft, Williams explained: “The draft was such a way that you just had to keep picking players.
“At the end we got him, and we were very pleased about it. We did not get Denesh Ramdin, which was our first choice, but once Denesh was gone, we had no doubt that he (Pooran) would be the second man,” Williams added.
Pooran, who plays for First Citizens Clarke Road United, said he was “quite surprised” with his CPL pick, especially since he is the number one T&T wicketkeeper for the July 17-August 21 Regional Under-19 Championships.
The clash means that the in-demand wicketkeeper will most likely miss the Under-19 championships.
Chairman of T&T Under-19 selection, Lalman Kowlessar confirmed the clash, and the addition of wicketkeepers Brandon Ramdial and Justin Samkaran to the Under-19 training squad.
“It is one of my dreams to play for the West Indies in the Under-19 World Cup,” said Pooran. “I just hope I am on that side.”