As Thursday, October 13 draws closer when the winner of the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence will be revealed at a ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, the Selection Committee has released the names of the three nominees, one of whom will be the winner of the coveted Award.
This year’s nominees are cricketers Stafanie Taylor and Tamar Lambert, and former Reggae Boy Warren Barrett.
There is no doubt that members of the selection committee will have a difficult task in choosing one winner from such a dynamic team of athletes to receive the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence.
Among the criteria which have to be met by nominees to be considered to receive this award are: A history of outstanding achievement in their chosen sport; a spirit of sportsmanship and goodwill reflected by truthfulness, courtesy and respect when dealing with other players/competitors and administrators; strong national pride; appropriate leadership skills; appropriate deportment; high level of discipline and integrity both inside and outside of the sports arena; as well as humility, even in the face of victory.
Also to receive awards under the umbrella of the annual Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence are two outstanding students (a male and female) at the secondary education level, having displayed exceptional qualities both in their academic performance and for demonstrating team commitment and good tenets of fair play while representing their school in sports.
Here is a snapshot of the three outstanding athletes shortlisted.
Stafanie Taylor is a Jamaica and West Indies star female cricketer who hails from Gordon Pen in Spanish Town, St Catherine. Staphanie became the first West Indian to earn the accolade of International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Cricketer of the Year. In 2012, her outstanding achievements enabled her to win the ICC Women’s ODI (One-Day International) Cricketer of the Year. For 2015, Taylor completed the sweep of all ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year awards, then she won the accolade for T20 Internationals. A right-handed batsman who bowls off spin, Taylor also the only cricketer, male or female, to top both the ICC’s batting and bowling rankings in ODI cricket. Earlier, the St Catherine native became the first Jamaican to lead the West Indies women cricketers to a global championship at the ICC World Cup T20 tournament in India.
She played a major role in the team’s performance in the final against Australia, who had scored 149. Batting with great responsibility, Taylor anchored the innings with a solid 59 off 57 balls as she and 18-year-old Player of the Match Hayley Matthews, who struck a quick-fire 66 from 45 balls, led the regional side to its historic triumph — by eight wickets.
Taylor’s all-round efforts, in not only the final, earned her the Player of the Tournament award. She was also the highest run-scorer and duly included in the ICC’s World 11.
All these achievements by the former Eltham High School student have come at a rapid pace and are earmarked by a level of consistency that is unrivalled.
Cricketer Tamar Lansford Lambert has represented Jamaica at every level. This son of St Catherine has been captain from the time he started playing the game, at Spanish Town Primary School, and to this day remains Jamaica’s most successful cricket captain ever. He expanded his prowess as a leader from primary level to Jonathan Grant High School, which is situated in the heart of his birthplace, Spanish Town, where he marshalled their troops through one of their most glittering periods on the vast cricketing landscape.
With Lambert at the helm, Jonathan Grant High won the Inter-secondary Schools’ Sports Association (ISSA) Under-14 and Under-16 Corporate Area titles. Under his stewardship, the school also came very close to winning the premier corporate area title, the Sunlight Cup. However, they lost on three occasions to Kingston College. An all-rounder who bats right-hander and bowls right-arm off spin, Lambert’s greatest successes, though, were yet to come, as it is while leading the Jamaica senior cricket team that he made his biggest mark. From 2008-2012, he led Jamaica to an unprecedented five consecutive triumphs in the regional four-day championship. To top it off, the last victory represented a marvellous milestone for Jamaica, not only from the historical standpoint, but also that it occurred in the year the country celebrated its 50th anniversary.
All told, Lambert captained Jamaica to six four-day regional championships. The first one under his direction came in 2005, exactly one year after he was promoted as captain, at age 23, of the senior cricket team. Lambert also led Jamaica to two regional Super50 titles, in 2007 and 2011, plus two play-off shields.
In a newspaper interview published after Jamaica had secured its fifth-consecutive title, the soft-spoken Lambert aptly summed up his leadership qualities.
“I have been captain all my life, so whatever team I play on, I normally captain it,” he said.
“People just see the natural leadership skills in me and I am a student of the game, so they always think that I am the best person to lead.”
Another nominee is Warren Barrett, a retired football goalkeeper and currently goalkeeping coach.
Barrett made his debut for the Jamaica National Football Team in 1990 against Barbados. He played his final FIFA international in 2000 against Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, when he came on as a substitute for midfielder Winston Griffiths as Aaron Lawrence was sent off.
He was the goalkeeping coach of the Jamaican squad that finished as runners-up in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.