Trinidad and Tobago will again be
looking to raise the bar in regional cricket when the inaugural Caribbean
Twenty20 tournament bowls off at Kensington Oval, Barbados on Thursday.
T&T are the reigning T20
champions of the region after winning the last Stanford T20 tournament in 2008
and coach Kelvin Williams says “as a team we set a high standard and we want to
make sure that the bar is raised further at the Caribbean T20.”
Daren Ganga’s men have won 13 out
of 17 matches at major T20 tournaments including finishing runners-up to Guyana
in the inaugural Stanford T20 in 2006, defeating Jamaica to win the 2008
edition and losing to New South Wales Blues in the final of the Airtel
Champions League in India last year.
T&T also defeated Middlesex in
the one-off Stanford Super Series in 2008 and came to within one run of
defeating England in their final match in the same tournament, their closest
finish in a T20 game to date.
Key to their strong run in the
shortest form of the game has been Ganga’s leadership and his ability to
motivate the team on the field.
Ganga’s T20 form has been
consistent this season and he was one of the few players to score a century in
the local Carib T20 tournament. He slammed 104 off 62 balls (11 four and five
sixes) for Alescon Comets and that is an indicator of his limited overs
Newcomer to the national T20 squad,
Imran Khan, also slammed a ton for Comets while W Connection batsman William
Perkins blasted 100 off 34 deliveries in the to bolster his reputation.
Williams noted that Ganga and
Dwayne Bravo are the two experienced players in the middle order that can
stabilise the innings if the top-order batsmen falter. The pair led T&T to
the final of the Champions League with an unbroken 90-run fourth wicket
partnership that helped them overcome a formidable Cape Cobras team in the
T&T have made large strides
forward in the T20 arena since their appearance in the Champions League with
Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Adrian Barath all going on to play in the
Indian Premier League.
Pollard was the busiest of the
three in T20 over the last year. The 23-year-old all-rounder played six matches
for South Australia in the T20 Big Bash, scoring 190 runs and taking six
wickets in six matches. Pollard then played 14 matches in the IPL for Mumbai
Indians, scoring 273 runs and taking 15 wickets and is joining the T&T team
after playing for Somerset in the Friends Provident T20 in England.
Bravo is equally experienced and
capable of raising or lowering the tempo in different situations. “Their input
is extremely important,” Williams said. “With the high standard of competition
in the IPL, Polly and Bravo are key players. Pollard played in Australia, in
India and in England so there is a vast amount of experience there.”
Only one player is missing from
T&T’s Champions League squad from last year. Pacer Ravi Rampaul, who often
opens and closes the bowling innings with great effect, is injured and
all-rounder Kevon Cooper was called up to complete the 14-member squad.
The absence of Rampaul is not a big
concern for coach Williams who backs the newcomers Khan and Cooper to deliver
the goods. “Ravi played a big part in our success over the last year but I
think we have a suitable replacement for him, and we hope that the player
replacing him can make that step up,” Williams said.
“We have a well balanced bowling
department and I expect them to do a good job. We have Imran Khan coming off a
fantastic West Indies A team tour. We have Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Sherwin
Ganga, Navin Stewart, Pollard and we have young Cooper who did very well in
trials and for Queen’s Park
T&T take on Canada in their
opening match at Kensington Oval, Barbados on Thursday from 4pm.