The Trinidad and Tobago Under-17s suffered a big blow yesterday when promising fast-bowler Shane Smith was ruled out of the final 14-member team after he strained the adductor muscle in his right leg on Thursday.
The injury leaves T&T one fast-bowler short for the Regional Under-17 limited overs championships, which bowl off on Monday in Tobago.
Smith, a right-arm pacer, will be replaced by bowling all-rounder Amrish Rampersad.
Rampersad, an off-spinner, has been training with the team as one of the reserve players, and coach Dasrath Maharaj says he should fit into the squad without any problems.
The cricketers will head to Tobago today, and will have a training session tomorrow before opening their campaign against the Leeward Islands at Shaw Park on Monday from 10 a.m.
Despite losing a key player in Smith days before the tournament, T&T are still confident of doing well.
Maharaj described it as a major blow for the team and for the aspiring fast bowler.
“The doctors said the injury can’t heal in time for Monday, and we don’t want to risk injuring him further,” said Maharaj.
“We still have three fast-bowlers in the team in Clevon Kalawan, Jarlarnie Seales and Anderson Phillip, but I was really looking forward to seeing (Smith) play in this tournament. He is the most aggressive of the lot.”
Maharaj is also concerned about the player’s state of mind after being ruled out of the tournament for the second consecutive year.
“I keep talking to him because he is a bit down now.”
The coach, who was also in charge of the T&T Under-17 team last year, explained that Smith was also ruled out of the tournament 2012 due to a back injury.
“He is a young man with a lot of talent. He has the right attitude towards training and I think he has a bright future ahead of him. He just has to remain focused.
“He is a leader in the team and the other players really look up to him. His absence is a setback, but we will have to work around that and try to get the guys to play cricket for him.
“We have enough resources, but we will definitely miss his presence in the team,” Maharaj added.
T&T Under-17 Squad
Varindra Jagrup (captain), Amir Jangoo, Carl Vialva, Jyd Goolie, Clevon Kalawan, Jameel Jeron Maniram, Shaquille McDavid, Brandon Jaggernath, Dejourn Charles, Bryan Boodram, Afdal Khan, Jarlarnie Seales, Anderson Phillip, Amrish Rampersad. Reserve: Kerron Simmons
Dasrath Maharaj (coach), Stephen Martel (manager)
Regional Under-17 Fixtures:
Round 1: July 1
T&T vs Leeward Islands, Shaw Park
Guyana vs Windward Islands, Bon Accord
Barbados vs Jamaica, Louis D’or
Round 2: July 3
T&T vs Windward Islands, Louis D’or
Jamaica vs Leeward Islands, Bon Accord
Barbados vs Guyana, Shaw Park
Round 3: July 4
T&T vs Jamaica, Bon Accord
Windward Islands vs Barbados, Shaw Park
Leeward Islands vs Guyana, Louis D’or
Round 4: July 6
T&T vs Barbados, Bon Accord
Guyana vs Jamaica, Shaw Park
Leeward Islands vs Windward Islands, Louis D’or
Round 5: July 7
T&T vs Guyana, Louis D’or
Barbados vs Leeward Islands, Bon Accord
Jamaica vs Windward Islands, Shaw Park