Chairman of the national cricket selectors Raphick Jumadeen is confident that the Red Force team will retain the West Indies Cricket Board WICB) Super50 title and complete an unprecedented hat-trick of victories, despite losing home advantage for the first time in three years.
After the disappointment of losing the first Nagico Super50 final against Barbados in 2014, the home team was virtually unbeatable at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, convincingly claiming the regional honours in the following two editions in front of their estatic fans.
The Red Force travel to Antigua at the end of the month, which is another happy hunting ground for the T&T cricketers where they first established themselves as regional powerhouses in the shortest format of the game sweeping all challengers when American businessman Allen Stanford annually organised his rich 20/20 tournament at the Sticky Wicket Ground in Coolidge.
Jumadeen, a former outstanding national and West Indies spin bowler said that he expects that under Denesh Ramdin’s captaincy, the national cricketers can rebound from their ordinary performances in the regional four-day tournament which is on a break to facilitate the Super50.
The top selector said he was very impressed with the enthusiasm shown, not only by Ramdin whose has had vast experience captaining the West Indies teams in Tests and One-Day Internationals, but by leading professionals Rayad Emrit, Ravi Rampaul, Evin Lewis, Kevon Cooper and current West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel.
“We have a full complement of senior players who along with a batch of youngsters, forms a winning blend and will balance the available talent for a winning campaign,” Jumadeen said on Wednesday. “The experience and enthusiasm we are seeing in this squad will more than compensate for the loss of home advantage,’’ he said.
Jumadeen also said he held out high hopes for other members of the squad whom he expect TTCBto seize the opportunity afforded them to play under Ramdin and his more experienced colleagues and will learn and improve their game at the regional level.
He pointed out that steady allrounder Roshon Primus and Jamaican fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who are key franchise members of the Red Force team are also expected to make a significant contribution to the Super50 effort.
And he is especially looking forward to seeing exciting Queen’s Park batsman Nicholas Alexis progress into a regular fixture on the team. “Alexis is definitely a player for the future. Every time I see him play he is growing in confidence, hitting the ball firmly in the middle of the bat and he can only get better with the Suyper50 experience,” said Jumadeen.
The chief selector is also banking on the talent of allrounder Imran Khan and spinner John Russ Jagessar especially since in the past they have proven to be match-winners who can be relied upon to give more than 100 percent every time they step onto the field.
“We all know how the persistence of Jagessar got him into the national team where he more than proved himself last season, he also benefitted immensely from his pick on the West Indies “A” team which toured Bangladesh and he along with Khan adds great value to the package,” said Jumadeen.
Also, likely to grow under Ramdin’s tutelage in Antigua is Yannick Ottley who has struggled with the captaincy of the four-day team, and his batting has also suffered as the fortunes of the team waned in the first part of the tournament before Christmas.
“I am confident that Ramdin has the support of all the players on the squad which will be going to the Super50 with their optimism high. Everyone will be focussed and will work as a team and give their total effort in bringing the regional trophy back home, “said Jumadeen.
He also defended senior team coach Gus Logie from the barrage of criticism levelled at him after a series of poor performances in the four-day tournament which left the Red Force wallowing at the bottom of the six-team standings after the first phase.
‘’The cricketers selected have been given all the tools they need by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board to play as professionals and get positive results. Coach Logie has also been doing his best and can’t be carrying all the blame for the poor results in the four-day format,” said Jumadeen.
He said that the players must step up their game and is counting heavily on Ramdin to whip them into the correct frame of mind to handle their latest assignment and fulfil the expectation of a nation whose appetite for success is proving insatiable.
However, Jumadeen remains highly optimistic that the squad selected possesses the talent and hunger to turn the tide in the new year and get the 2017 cricket season off to a winning start.
The strong 14-member Red Force squad for the upcoming West Indies Cricket Board Super50 limited overs tournament has been placed in Group “A” along with invitees Kent Spitfires, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, West Indies Under-19s, and the Windward Islands Volcanoes.
Group “B” comprises Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, CCC Marooners, Jamaica Scorpions, and the ICC Americas.
T&T REGIONAL SUPER50 SQUAD
1. DINESH RAMDIN
2. KYLE HOPE
3. EVIN LEWIS
4. KJORN OTTLEY
5. JASON MOHAMMED
6. NICHOLAS ALEXIS
7. ROSHON PRIMUS
8. RAVI RAMPAUL
9. SHANNON GABRIEL
10. KHARY PIERRE
11. JON RUSS JAGGESAR
12. IMRAN KHAN
13. SHELDON COTTRELL
14. RAYAD EMRIT
1. ROLAND SAMPATH – Manager
2. AUGUSTINE LOGIE – Coach
3. KELVIN WILLIAMS – Assistant Coach
4. ADARAYLL JOHN – Trainer
5. RUEL RIGBY – Physio