“I would rather be unemployed and play cricket than be in a steady job and not be able to play.”
This passionate declaration came from the mouth of Dalton Polius, who was recently drafted into the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) for the Zouks, St Lucia’s franchise team. At the age of 22, he is focused, determined, knows what he wants and is going after it.
Polius could have opted to go the route that most take after leaving school; that is, apply for a ‘regular’ job, receive a fixed salary and be relatively content. After all, this is the path that a lot of 20-somethings take.
However, this was not an option that this young man from Corinth could consider because he realised the challenge he would face when requesting time off to represent his country for cricket.
He’s grateful to the Ministry of Sports in St. Lucia that employed him, along with Johnson Charles, Garey Mathurin and Keddy Lesporis, as a cricket coach because this allowed him the flexibility to play cricket professionally.
Ambitious from the start, Dalton attended school in St Lucia, including the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School where he was the first student from the school to be chosen to attend Woodhouse Grove School in England.
This opportunity came about as the result of a scholarship established by the St. Lucia Tourist Board, which gave young persons the chance to study and play cricket overseas.
Polius attended Woodhouse in 2007 to pursue his ‘A’ Level studies, and returned home in 2009. Not one to let a chance to play more cricket pass him by, he told his Coach at Woodhouse, Ian Frost, that he wanted to return the following year. Frost didn’t hesitate. He scouted around and it wasn’t long before the Collingham Linton Cricket Club scooped Polius up.
One of the Club’s players, Sam Anderson, was a past student of Woodhouse and Dalton was invited to play with the Club in the Aira-Wharfe Cricket League, Division 1. He played for one season and returned to St. Lucia in 2010 to focus on playing for the Windward Islands.
The all-rounder says cricket, just like family, is a major part of his life. He grew up watching his Dad playing cricket on the community playing field.
“My Dad was a huge cricket fan and played cricket with passion. At first, I didn’t really like the sport but it grew on me. Having been in the environment for so long I had to give in, and once I did it was like second nature. It was like a natural progression of my life and from then onwards I wanted to be a cricketer.”
Polius started taking cricket seriously at the age of 11 and was soon playing in local leagues organised by the Ministry of Sports and representing St. Lucia and the Windward Islands in both Under-15 and Under-19 tournaments.
In 2011 he played his first game for the Windwards (Senior Team) against the England lions ‘A’ Team in Dominica and in 2012 he helped Team St. Lucia win the Windward Islands Tournament for the first time in 43 years.
He entered the programme at the Sagicor High Performance Centre in Barbados in June this year, and the 18-month stint will take him up to December 2014.
When he first started playing, Polius says there was Brian Lara and other guys from the Caribbean who he could emulate but no one that he could look up to at home.
“Then Darren Sammy came along. He is my hero and has been a source of inspiration to me. He has achieved so much and my aim is to reach and even surpass his achievements,” declared Dalton.
“I bought him his first bat when he was 11,” his mother, Marilen recalls. “He hasn’t put it down since. Sometimes he would just hold the bat in his hand even when he wasn’t playing, and that’s how I knew he was serious, and would reach somewhere. We come from a sporting family – netball, football and cricket. I was very good at netball but Dalton has broken through barriers that we couldn’t cross.”
Mrs. Polius is emotional when she thinks of what her son has accomplished.
“I am so proud that he has reached this far but I tell him ‘Don’t take the glory because the glory belongs to God. He alone can make this happen for you. Put God first, be focused, and you will continue to climb the ladder of success.’”
Polius’ father, Jean-Baptiste Emilien, is equally proud.
“Dalton is very humble and he listens to what I have to say. He is not one to hang out and get in trouble. Sometimes I even have to beg him to go out!” said Emilien. “It is so great. When he was selected for the LCPL, I was elated. This is exposure for him to move on and reach as far as he can.”
Polius intends to do just that. His goal: to reach the pinnacle of the sport of cricket, the game he says he was born to play.