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Meet LEO! TKR’s Youngest Player This CPL

West Indies U-19 Wicket-keeper-batsman Leonardo Julien keeps a close eye on the ball. Photo: ICC via Getty Images

Nineteen-year-old Leonardo Julien who has recently been added to the Hero CPL’s defending champions’ roster, the Trinbago Knight Riders, is the TKR’s youngest member this year. The wicket-keeper-batsman has been a regular for West Indies' under-19 and their emerging teams in the last few months but he is yet to play a single T20 game and has been drafted in as a back-up wicket-keeper for Denesh Ramdin.

Leo, as commonly known, was motivated to start his cricket career after being inspired by his brothers, Shaquille and Nathaniel Mc David, who were both heavily involved in the sport. Currently representing Preysal Cricket Club, he started his career playing Premier 1 with Caldrac Cricket Club, after which he went on to Diego Martin Club Merry Boys. In the last couple of years, the young cricketer has been no stranger to the local cricket scene though, as he has represented the West Indies U-19, West Indies Emerging team, West Indies B team and most recently Team Abu Dhabi (T10). The Trinbago Knight Riders will kick off its 2021 CPL Tournament on Thursday (26th) against the Guyana Amazon Warriors in a closed-door encounter at Warner Park, St Kitts. T&T Sport Diary very briefly caught up with young Leo and here’s some of what he had to say.

Leonardo Julien and his older brother Nathaniel Mc David.

T&T Sport Diary: What were you doing the moment you found out you’ve been drafted by the TKR for the CPL? How did you feel and Also, what was your family’s reactions.

Julien: I was at training in the National Cricket Center and my teammate Jayden Seales told me his grandmother (was) on the phone and she want(ed) to talk to me but it was actually Colin Borde, the manager of TKR. When he told me I got selected on the team for this year’s Cpl (it) instantly brought a huge smile on my face then Jayden and I started celebrating together. The other players around was like “y’all mad or something?” but honestly it was a great feeling. My older brother Nathaniel was there but he didn’t know until I called my parents (while) in the car heading to Seales’ home. I told them I was just selected for TKR for this year’s CPL and they were like “stop lying”. My brother was like “no he isn’t he was just celebrating with Seales.” When I got home later that evening they were waiting for me then I told them the news again and they started jumping for joy. It was an amazing feeling for my family I think they were even happier than I was.

T&T Sport Diary: How does it feel to be the youngest player in the TKR camp this season?

Julien: I feel over joy(ed) to be in this setup.

T&T Sport Diary: What was your personal preparation like after being drafted by the TKR?

Julien: The preparation was kind of tough because in Trinidad & Tobago all outdoor sports was on hold due to the pandemic. So after being drafted, I installed a cricket nets at home with the help of my father, uncles and my brothers. Then I did strength and conditioning with few nets training until I was able to resume practice with the national team.

T&T Sport Diary: What are your goals for the upcoming season?

Julien: Goal-setting in this tournament will be tough with the calibre of players the team has. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get an opportunity (to play), but if given the chance, I will play to the best of my ability towards the team winning.

T&T Sport Diary: What are some personal strengths that have made you into the player you are?

Julien: Having a strong spiritual background with God and also being fearless (has made me into the player I am).

T&T Sport Diary: Do you look up to any coaches or athletes in your sport or even outside of cricket?

Julien: Yes I do. Virat Kohli, Brian Lara, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Hussey.

T&T Sport Diary: Are you close with any of the guys in camp?

Julien: Yes I am, I play with and against most of the players in Trinidad but I’m really close to Jayden Seales , he’s like a brother to me.

T&T Sport Diary: Apart from the aforementioned players you look up to, do you have any role models within the camp?

Julien: Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Colin Munro and Darren Bravo.

T&T Sport Diary: If you had to play a one on one against one of your current teammates, who would you choose to play against that you think you can win ? One over each, most runs win.

Julien: I’ll go with Jayden Seales because we are very competitive against each other. I’ll smoke him though.

Leonardo Julien and his teammate/friend Jayden Seales share a light moment. Photo Copyright: Rising Stars (No Copyright infringement intended)

T&T Sport Diary: If given the chance, how do you plan to cope with some of your weaknesses if they present themselves?

Julien: (I) Try to stay focus, not be in two minds, be positive and execute the team’s plan.

T&T Sport Diary: Though you’re still young, how do you think you can use your professional skillset and experience to help T&T cricket and by extension, cricket in your community?

Julien: I can contribute, if given the opportunity, by assisting Trinidad and Tobago cricket to get back on top in the four-day cricket. In my community, help get the kids more involved in the game by holding small friendly tournaments and try to get some more professional cricketers to be there to share their experiences.

T&T Sport Diary: Question: What has been the highlight of your very young career thus far?

Julien: The support I got from my parents, brothers and my family I must give my father all the credit for where I am today ,my mother as well.

T&T Sport Diary: Where do you see yourself in a couple of years from now, in terms of cricket?

Julien: Hopefully with God’s guidance, health and strength, I would like to be playing at the highest level internationally.

T&T Sport Diary: What has been some of your challenges since you've started playing?

Julien: One of the challenges I face is when I’m having a bad patch trying to get out of it.

It’s a hard question because the background I came from was challenging so way through the sport it was much easier for me to deal with it.

T&T Sport Diary: If not cricket, what other sport would you have seen yourself doing?

Julien: Swimming.

T&T Sport Diary: What’s your favourite type of music, food, and your favourite thing to do in you spare time?

Julien: Dancehall music, dumpling and crab and I play warzone (in my free time).

We do wish Julien a great debut, if given, and a great future in the game.-

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