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T&T cricketers shine

The Trinidad and Tobago cricket team known as the Red Force (RF), has started off the 2019 regional season by playing sparkling cricket. At the Queen’s Park Oval in their first two games last weekend, they whipped the opposition convincingly to the delight of their fans.

Unfortunately, there were few spectators at the ground to cheer on the team. Why? Is it a lack of advertising or no marketing of the product, or is it a dearth of interest in the game or the absence of high-profile players, the competition running simultaneously with the West Indies (WI) team opposing Afghanistan in India?

Whatever the case might be, the RF side produced marvellous cricket to please supporters and administrators alike!

In the first game against Windward Islands Volcanoes, it was heartwarming to witness Darren Bravo rekindling his confidence with a breath-taking century that was entertaining in its execution and responsible in its composition.

While he was going about his match-winning innings he was steering his partner, the 24-year-old talented left-handed opening batsman Jeremy Solozano, to a record partnership of 234 runs in Super-50 cricket.

Solozano, a left-handed batsman like Bravo, also got a century, scoring 102 not out to his senior partner’s 115, undefeated as well. What made the partnership, moreover the way in which it was compiled, even more remarkable, is the fact that when the pair was brought together the score was just 5 runs for 2 wickets.

And it only took them 42.5 overs in total, to overtake the opposition’s score of 238 for 8 in their 50 overs. As if that wasn’t satisfying enough, the T&T unit, coached by ex-Test cricketer Mervyn Dillon with assistance from manager David Furlonge, extended their success to win their second game persuasively; this time their challenger was last year’s runner-up, Guyana Jaguars.

Though there was a stoppage for a thunderstorm, the excellent drainage on the field plus the efficiency of the groundsmen had play resuming with only a loss of 14 overs in the game.

In the now 43-over game the Jaguars could only muster 187/9. In another outstanding show, this time starring batsman Tion Webster playing a brilliant innings for 87, the RF slipped past the target in 36 overs.

While the wickets were shared in the first game, this time fast bowler Anderson Phillip collected four which should have been five but for an absolute sitter put down at backward point in his final over.

This brings me to the point that the one discipline lacking expertise is the fielding, especially catching. Fielding in the night is tougher than in the daytime because the ball’s rate of descent against the blackness of the sky is sometimes difficult to judge with any certainty, therefore it requires more practice at night to acclimatise to the conditions.

Overall, this start by the RF is tremendous, and it augurs well for the rest of the tournament.

Pooran helps WI win

Another T&T cricketer hitting it off with the bat on the same weekend, this time for the WI, was Nicholas Pooran.

The wicket-keeper batsman, who knows what it’s like to fight through challenging circumstances in his personal life, having conquered the effects of a terrible car accident in 2015, walked to the wicket against Afghanistan with the score at 156 for 4 wickets. He never left until the final over, top scoring with 67 which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

This effort of Pooran’s helped WI to win the game and with it the series, the first the Caribbean cricketers have won in ODI’s since 2014!

Another local, Evin Lewis, scored 58 at the top of the order. With his ability, he ought to be more consistent with high scores, although recently he’s showing signs of being more selective in his strokeplay.

It certainly was an admirable weekend for T&T cricketers from the far distant Lucknow in northern India to the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, helping their teams with match-winning performances. It is a pity that home fans weren’t there to watch the talent on show as the young cricketers especially, need their support.

Then, at the Brian Lara stadium in Tarouba, Joshua Da Silva of T&T, a most talented wicket-keeper batsman, playing for the WI Emerging Players team, went in to bat at 25 for 4 against the USA, scored a superb 62 not out, plus, along with the skipper, Yannic Cariah, another player from T&T who scored 28 not out, led their team to victory.

When you throw in Kieron Pollard as the victorious captain in WI first ODI series win in five years, in addition to coach Phil Simmons, both of T&T, it has been a dazzling weekend for T&T cricketers!