It is every sport person’s dream to start his or her career with a bang.
Scoring a goal in a first outing for the national football team; a cricketer’s century on debut; or a gold medal performance at a first major track and field championship.
For 19-year-old fast bowler Marquino Mindley, flights of fantasy transformed into glorious reality.
His 5-35 on first-class debut versus the Windward Islands Volcanoes last week at Sabina Park caught the attention of many cricket followers across the region.
Bowling with accuracy and getting consistent away swing from the right-handed batsmen, he ripped through the Windwards line-up, helping to dismiss them for 110 in their first innings as Jamaica went on to win the encounter by 13 runs.
“I think it was a really good performance and I feel pleased with myself. For weeks I’ve been training and playing practice matches so the hard work has paid off,” he said, dripping with pride.
“During the trial and practice matches I was hitting the right areas and in training I was hitting the top of off-stump. The coach [Junior Bennett] and skipper [Tamar Lambert] told me to do what I did in trials, and no matter who is batting, I’d get wickets. I went out with that mind frame and I came in hard. I got good response [from the pitch] plus I got some extra bounce with my out-swing and mostly from a three-quarter length.”
Some see Mindley as a bolt from the blue, but the pacer, who hails from Rose Hall in St Elizabeth, actually made steady rise through the youth ranks.
Current national coach Bennett and Richard Walters – both known to unearth talented players over the years – have been notable guides.
“He’s a talented youngster and he’s a skilful bowler. He’s very deceptive because he’s actually quicker than people make him out to be. I saw him from he was about 12 years old at one of the Courtney Walsh cricket camps and from that moment we’ve been paying close attention to him,” Bennett said.
Mindley’s bowling style and level of success led to comparisons with West Indies bowler and fellow parishioner Jerome Taylor.
And Mindley, who like Taylor plays club cricket for St Elizabeth, said he wants to emulate his role model even further by representing the West Indies at the senior level.
The road to national prominence began a while back. He told the Jamaica Observer that early inspiration came from his uncle, who played for St Elizabeth CA.
“I started playing at about age 10. My uncle, Feron Findley; I used to follow him around to watch him play club cricket and he encouraged me to start playing.”
He explained that while attending Rose Hall Primary he was a handy batsman and he only took to bowling when he left for St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS). It turned out he was a natural and the rest fell smoothly into place.
“I started bowling after [STETHS cricket coach] Clive Ledgister recommended it. I started bowling at medium pace and I hit the right areas often. Everything came natural and he suggested I should start to bowl fast and I had to work on a longer [bowling] run-up.”
Success in schoolboy cricket aside, Mindley played two years for the Jamaica Under-15 team and another two seasons for the Under-19s.
He was also a member of the West Indies Under-19 set-up for two seasons. A junior in his first year, he played one game at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup, often being overlooked due to the presence of more senior quick bowlers.
When bolstered by experience in his second year, a hamstring injury struck, limiting him to another single outing at yet another showpiece youth tournament. Mindley did however impress in an Under-19 series against Bangladesh. He said pointers given to him by fastbowling icon Walsh, who was manager of the regional Under-19s, proved invaluable.
But what of the comparisons with Taylor?
“When I was at STETHS he [Taylor] came around and said I reminded him of how he was at that stage. We became like friends and he showed me stuff,” Mindley said.
Taylor, nicknamed ‘Rex’, was also a standout at STETHS. His desire now is to guide his younger teammate when the two don the national colours against Barbados this weekend.
“l worked with him at STETHS where they called him ‘Little Rex’; that’s the smaller version of me. He has always said he wanted to play with me so when I saw him bowl last week, I thought this might be it. I’m looking forward to it and so I will try my best to guide him along. He is someone for the future so hopefully he can continue working hard and improve on his game,” Taylor said.
Spectators can also brace for some friendly rivalry between the two, according to Taylor.
“This game is also a good test for me because I’m going to play with him and there’s no way I’m going to let him outclass me,” the experienced bowler said with a broad smile.