Trinidad and Tobago may have a depleted squad for their upcoming West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional Four-Day Tournament clash with Jamaica, starting tomorrow at the Queen’s Park Oval, but the visitors are not taking that fact for granted.
Aside from injuries to experienced openers Adrian Barath and Lendl Simmons, along with pacer Ravi Rampaul, the team is also affected by the absences of five players selected—including skipper Denesh Ramdin, their in-form batsman and wicketkeeper— to the West Indies One-Day International (ODI) squad.
Brothers Darren and Dwayne Bravo, all-rounder Kieron Pollard and off-spinner Sunil Narine—the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 31 scalps—are all on West Indies duty.
Even former captain Daren Ganga, who played in the home win over Windward Islands two week ago, is out of contention because of a law degree graduation.
But as Jamaica captain Tamar Lambert told reporters during his team’s training session at the Oval yesterday, his team is not expecting an easy match.
“I don’t think so. I think whatever team Trinidad puts out on the field always will be competitive. They have a lot of youngsters who want to break into the first team, so this is an opportunity for them to come up against us and have a good performance.”
Jamaica are a perfect four wins from four matches, 20 points ahead of second-placed T&T. But having already qualified for the regional semi-finals, their aim is to finish atop the tournament standings.
Said Lambert: “Our focus at the moment is just to play four days of good cricket. We know that the Trinidad team is a very competitive one. Having said that, we try to prepare ourselves in the best physical way we can and mentally, so overall I think we’re ready for this game.”
Jamaica’s batting has repelled strong challenges from the Windward Islands, and Guyana this season, leaving Lambert confident that they can repeat the feat at the Oval.
He also said that even the prospect of a landmark fifth straight four-day title does not put his team under additional pressure.
“We have a lot of players who really want to move onto the highest level, and I think we are at the right age now, 29-30, and this is our final chance to try and push for a chance at the highest (Test) level, so in that sense, a lot players have started to work very hard on their game, and we are in good health so far.”
Lambert also took a moment to pay tribute to former Leeward Islands, T&T and West Indies player Runako Morton, who died following a car crash on Sunday night.
“(Morton’s death was) very sudden. We have played against Runako a few years now. (He was) a really nice guy, fierce competitor on and off the field,” a sombre Lambert stated.
“We were very saddened to hear the news that he’s passed away, but such is life. We have to just move on, and at the end of the day, the cricket is there to be played, so we still have to concentrate on that.”