“All is not lost. We are still in this tournament.”
Those were the words of Trinidad and Tobago coach Dasrath Maharaj to his players after their last over lost to Jamaica in the Regional Under-17 tournament in Tobago on Thursday.
Today Maharaj said his men will be focused and looking to come back with a win as they take on leaders Barbados in a must-win encounter at Bon Accord Recreational Facility in Tobago from 9 a.m.
The Bajans are at the top of the six-team standings with 19.1 points after winning all their matches so far in their campaign. T&T are third on 12.5, while the defending champions Jamaica are in second place with 12.6.
In other matches today, Jamaica take on Guyana at Shaw Park, while the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands face off at Louis D’or.
The T&T matches have all come down to the wire, and Maharaj believes that those close calls and even their “heartbreaking” loss to Jamaica will make the players psychologically and mentally stronger for the matches to come.
T&T were also forced to make another change to the team, bringing in Tobago’s Renaldo Lezama as a replacement for Amrish Rampersad, who fractured his thumb during training on Tuesday.
Rampersad was himself a replacement for pacer Shane Smith, who pulled out on the eve of the tournament. Rampersad will stay with the team until the end of the competition before returning to Trinidad for further treatment.
T&T manager Stephen Martel said the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) will be looking after Rampersad and Smith.
Speaking about the loss to Jamaica off the penultimate ball of the match, Maharaj said: “It was a heartbreaking loss. A tough loss, but at the end of the day it was a good game of cricket. He explained that mistakes in field placements, inconsistent bowling and a dropped catch were the main reasons why Jamaica were able to chase down 258 to win by two wickets.
The coach insisted that you can’t blame that missed chance alone for the loss.
“He (Shaquille McDavid) was very nervous going for the catch. It is still a learning process. He is still growing, and he will be better off (for) the experience.
“He felt he let the team down, but we were able to build back his confidence and let him know that there will be mistakes, but you have to work harder and come back stronger.”
“This is not the end. We have another game against Barbados. We know we are capable of beating Barbados convincingly. We are still in this tournament. We cannot give up. We have to come stronger in the next game.”
T&T Squad: Varindra Jagrup (captain), Amir Jangoo, Carl Vialva, Jyd Goolie, Clevon Kalawan, Jameel Jeron Maniram, Shaquille McDavid, Brandon Jaggernauth, Dejourn Charles, Bryan Boodram, Afdal Khan, Jarlarnie Seales, Anderson Phillip, Renaldo Lezama, Amrish Rampersad (injured).
Dasrath Maharaj (coach), Stephen Martel (manager)
Today’s Regional Under-17 Fixtures
(all matches start at 9:30 a.m.)
T&T vs Barbados, Bon Accord
Guyana vs Jamaica, Shaw Park
Leeward Islands vs Windward Islands, Louis D’or
Regional Under-17 Standings
Teams GP W L BP Pts
Barbados 3 3 0 1.1 19.1
Jamaica 3 2 1 0.6 12.6
T&T 3 2 1 0.5 12.5
Windwards 3 1 2 1 7
Leewards 3 1 2 1 7
Guyana 3 0 3 0.3 0.3
(NB: Teams get 0.1 Bonus Points for every wicket taken by a fast bowler)