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Barclay, Ottley see progress through HPC

By Roger Seepersad

Trinidad and Tobago players Marlon Barclay, Yannic Cariah and Kjorn Ottley all entered the Sagicor High Performance Centre eager for knowledge and after a few months, the trio are already seeing improvements in their games.

For Barclay, the HPC was seen as stepping stone to bigger and better performances and hopefully, a call-up to the West Indies team in the future, while Ottley is trying to break into the T&T first-class team next year.

Ottley has so far represented the Combined Campuses and Colleges in the regional four-day competition and with his studies over, he is now aiming to get a T&T cap.

Cariah, who played four first-class matches for T&T in 2011 taking 13 wickets with a strike rate of 37.3, will be trying to regain his place on the national side in 2013 after playing just one match for T&T in 2012.

Of the previous batch of HPC graduates, batsman Nevisian Kieran Powell and T&T fast bowler Shannon Gabriel have both gone on to play Test cricket for the regional side, while wicketkeeper Devon Thomas from Antigua has been used in the West Indies limited overs team.

Queen's Park Cricket Club batsman Barclay said that being part of the HPC has given him an idea of what it takes to make the transition to the higher level.

"Going to the HPC...it gave me a lot of insight about what it is you need to do to reach that higher level and that is where I am aspiring to go, so it is a good experience and a good insight for me to know what I need to do to make that step up," he said.

So far the 23-year-old middle order batsman has played four first-class matches for T&T, all in 2012. He made his debut in March against Barbados at his home ground, Queen's Park Oval.

The left-hander scored a half century in his second game for T&T against Guyana at the same venue and played out the rest of the season with T&T before he was selected to join the HPC.

He said: "There is always room for improvement and I just want to continue working hard and keep working on my game and continue to score runs wherever I play, whether it is for Queen's Park or Trinidad and Tobago."

Barclay added: "I always look forward to playing cricket for Queen's Park or whoever it may be. I am looking forward to the upcoming season and to scoring some runs and hopefully I can get selected for Trinidad again."

Although the Parkite has not set himself specific targets for the season ahead, he knows exactly what he wants to do.

"As the season gets closer I will jot down a few targets I want to achieve but for right now, I am continuously working on my game and trying to improve," he explained.

"There is a lot of improvement I have seen so far in terms of my preparation. I have learned that preparation is a crucial part of your game so I am preparing a lot better now than I used to before," he said.

"It has been a hectic schedule but it has been beneficial as well. It was a lot of hard work but it has paid off in the end. I am a lot fitter now and a lot more knowledgeable about my game. It was hard but very informative and very beneficial."

Of his own technique, Barclay said the HPC coaches did not want to make any drastic changes.

"There were some minor changes but not too much because I have my own style of batting and they did not want to change that too much," he said. "It was just a few minor things that have changed and I am continuing to work on (them).

Barclay is now looking forward to putting into practice what he has learned at the HPC if he gets a chance to represent T&T at the regional four-day competition in 2013.

"We have to go back (to the HPC) on the 6th of January but they have said they will make us available for selection for our territories. The positive is that we will be available for selection for Trinidad," he reaffirmed.

The Express also caught up with hard-hitting opener Ottley who is happy for the experience and exposure he has been getting during his time at the HPC.

"It has been a good experience getting to play with a new bunch of guys...trying to gel together as a team," he said.

Ottley has also seen some improvement in his fitness and his batting and is determined to take full advantage of the HPC programme.

"Travelling to Bangladesh and experiencing different conditions was also good experience and I know all that experience...playing on different wickets and learning to adapt to different conditions will benefit me in the future," the left-hander explained.

"I have improved definitely in my fitness. I am still working on improving my batting. I think there is still some fine tuning I have to do and I think I will be fine.

"My goal is to break into the (T&T) four-day team and be a permanent fixture in T&T side. Playing for Trinidad and Tobago is my main priority for next year."

And Ottley, also a useful left-arm spinner in limited overs cricket, concluded this way:

"I think once I continue the work on my game and use what I have learned from the HPC, I think I should be okay."

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