Trinidad and Tobago’s most recent first-class debutant, the tall left-arm orthodox spinner Ricky Jaipaul, was eager to make an impact in his first regional four-day game and that is exactly what he did, albeit late on the third day’s play on Sunday in front of a small but lively crowd at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
T&T were up against the Combined Campuses and Colleges in a day/night Regional Four-Day Championship fixture and the hosts were on top for most of the contest after making 451 for eight declared in their first innings.
CCC were all out for 144 in their first turn at the crease, however Jaipaul went wicket-less off his 12 overs which cost 27 runs.
He then grabbed four second innings wickets late in the extended final session on Sunday night as CCC were dismissed for 330, giving T&T just 24 to get for victory on the final day yesterday.
Speaking about his first innings effort, Jaipaul said: “It was just that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get wickets because that was my main aim, but after talking to the coach and the skipper, I realised that it is not only about getting wickets. It is about patience and maintaining a good line and that is what I went out to do in the second innings.”
After T&T enforced the follow-on on Sunday, the 22-year-old Jaipaul looked destined for a forgettable debut after dropping CCC centurion Shacaya Thomas for zero off Shannon Gabriel in the first over of the second innings with the ball rolling into the fine-leg boundary.
He also failed to trouble the CCC batsmen for most of day three as Thomas, who made 116, and Kyle Corbin who scored 65, put on 120 for second wicket in a partnership that spanned more than 35 overs.
But late in the final session, Jaipaul showed up. He made amends for the earlier lapse, using the top-spinner to good effect to trap a now cautious Thomas lbw with the score on 242 for four.
Three balls later, CCC skipper Steven Jacobs found Shannon Gabriel at mid-on and Jaipaul started to gain confidence and create some problems for the batsmen on a surface that was still very good for batting.
He sent back Kavem Hodge and Ryan Austin both via the lbw route as the umpires extended play an extra half hour with T&T pushing for a result.
Imran Khan did the rest, adding three second innings wickets to the four he collected in the first.
Jaipaul said he got a lot of support from his teammates and that spurred him on to do better.
“It is a good feeling to start on a high note in regional cricket. My first goal was to be comfortable and get accustomed to the cricket out there. When I went out, I got help from the guys and I just took it from there and after the first wicket, everything just fell into place,” he explained.
About his use of the top-spinner in the second innings, Jaipaul said: “I was just trying to bowl wicket to wicket plus the ball was drifting a lot. Normally I bowl orthodox but Polly (Kieron Pollard) was telling me to try the top-spinner because I can bowl that as well and I did that and it worked four times for me.”
“For me, I am tall, so my surprise is the bounce, so with a little bit of bounce and a little bit of turn, you don’t need plenty, you will cause trouble for the batsmen and then with the top-spin, it is like a surprise delivery to them that they wouldn’t expect,” he added.
One of the persons Jaipaul surprised would have been Thomas, who looked very comfortable against all of the T&T bowlers on Sunday as he counter-attacked to good effect.
Facing 189 balls, Thomas hit his second century in as many matches, following up on his 176 which set up CCC’s previous round win over Guyana. On Sunday, Thomas hit ten fours and two sixes to keep the CCC innings together.
About his knock, Thomas said it was all about strategy.
“I picked out the bowler I knew I was going to target and the one that I would be cautious against and it worked for me on the day, the only sad thing is that I was not able to carry on for the team,” said the Jamaican right hander.
“I decided to play straight. I did not have a good performance in the first innings and it is good to come up trumps in the second innings and put up a fight for the CCC,” he added.
Also contributing to the CCC fightback was Chadwick Walton who hit 73 off 111 balls with four fours and four sixes.