Sad farewell to Red Force
THEY are not packed with Twenty20 superstars.
Those they have produced—the mighty hitter Kieron Pollard, the all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and the mesmerising spinner Sunil Narine—have moved on to lucrative contracts with several franchises on the international circuit.
Pollard and Bravo were with the opposition in their stirring campaign in the latest Champions League. Narine was available only because his Indian Premier League (IPL) team didn’t qualify.
On paper, they appear no stronger than most other teams.
Yet Trinidad and Tobago have a record in cricket’s newest, shortest and most popular version second to none at regional level and, notwithstanding yesterday’s semi-final loss to the Mumbai Indians, better than any outside of India in the annual Champions League.
They have been champions four times out of six in the two separate regional Twenty20 tournaments—Stanford’s in 2008 and the WICB’s in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Although they haven’t repeated in the Champions League, losing to New South Wales in their first of three appearances in 2009, their 10 wins in 15 matches are second only to the Chennai Super Kings’ 11 in 19 matches. They were the only team outside the IPL to make it to the 2013 semi-finals.
So what is their formula?
For sure, it comes through a combination of basic talent, proper preparation, leadership and self-confidence. But, above all, it seems to me, is the motivation of intense national pride. Call it the “Trini to the bone” attitude if you will.
The Champions League is the only international cricket tournament in which their identity is singular and clear.
While others flew the standards and wore the colours of the city franchises their cosmopolitan mix of players represent, Trinidad and Tobago were bedecked in the predominant red with black and white trimmings that identify the national flags proudly waved by the dozens who flew to India to support their team which is, significantly, comprised completely of Trinis, and Tobagonians, through and through.
These are powerful factors. No wonder there is a strong body of opinion in Trinidad and Tobago sad that this will be the last time the “Red Force” will be together as such.
From now on, their representative team is the Trinidad Red Steel, the multi-national combination of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). It can’t be the same.