Trinidad and Tobago kicked off their preparations for the 2014 cricket season yesterday by hosting 35 players at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva, who will all find themselves on trial as they will be vying for positions on T&T’s 50-over and four-day teams.
West Indies One-day International captain Dwayne Bravo also dropped in for the practice session, having returned from the Windies’s recent tour of India.
This time around the T&T selection panel consists of Alec Burns—who has replaced former T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) vice-president Dudnath Ramkessoon as chairman—longtime administrator Lalman Kowlessar, former West Indies selector Raphick Jumadeen, Narine Bedhesi, and Roland Sampath.
Yesterday, Burns said he is looking for the right combination of players that will produce winning performances for the team.
“Obviously the key is performance,” Burns told the Express. “We’re looking at the performance of the players. We have 35 players in training right now both for the four-day and the 50 overs (formats). We set our sights on winning the tournaments; the four-day in particular has been eluding us for quite some time. That is where our main focus should be really. Notwithstanding we want to win both.”
T&T’s batting has been of great concern in the last few years in both of those formats, and they have struggled against both pace and spin. Burns said special attention will be paid on production with the bat in 2014.
“Our main thrust is really to try to get the players to occupy the crease and bat long,” he explained. West Indies cricket, with the fast food diet of T20, a lot of players when they make 40s and 50s that is it. Their concentration span is on the wane, and they tend to give their wickets away. They need to bat long and their concentration must be up.”
The TTCB, Burns said, is in “full support of the players”, adding that the selection panel’s job is to try to make things as comfortable as possible for the cricketers. Their job, in return, is to show their desire with both performance and attitude.
“Selection is not going out there and making runs. Sometimes you look at the players’ all-round ability. That’s what we’re looking at,” Burns stressed. “Sometimes players may not know it but your behaviour off the field will manifest on the field.”
So what would make 2014 a successful season from a selector’s perspective?
“Winning would make it a good season. We have been producing players amass on the West Indies team. If you look at the current West Indies team we have a lot of players. But we seem not to get it right to win the tournament. But most of the times we’re never at full strength. Jamaica, they are playing regularly for the past couple of years with a few exceptions. People don’t really look at it that way.”
Kowlessar, meanwhile, said one idea to help T&T’s batsmen improve would be to increase their diet of fierce pace bowling.
“We are looking at it, possibly to get more grass onto the pitches, and secondly, we want to leave a little moisture on the pitch so our batsmen would not have up and down pitches... We’re trying to get groundsmen to leave some grass, some moisture so the bowlers will gain much more.”