xTrinidad and Tobago’s women cricketers left Piarco International Airport on Wednesday for South Africa to engage local clubs in a goodwill tour. But for skipper Merissa Aguilleira and her charges, the trip will be more than a practice series.
Before the team left Piarco, Aguilleira told the Express she hopes the team will take the opportunity to improve in all areas of their game, with the Regional Tournament looming in July, as well as the possibility of spots on the West Indies team.
The team boasts of five debutant players in the squad of 14.
They are Samantha Bissoon and Rackeal Bissoon (no relation), Selene O’Neil, Kamara Ragoobar and Chantal Emmanuel.
The more experienced players include all-rounder Stacy-Ann King and Kirbyina Alexander, opener Amanda Samaroo and Britney Cooper who have all played for West Indies. Alisa Mohammed, twin of Windies off-spinner Anisa, and defending League champs Moosai Sports captain Lee-Ann Kirby are also very experienced.
Noticeably missing from the line-up are Anisa and Felicia “Jamie” Walters, both through injury. T&T will play their first match on Sunday against a team yet to be confirmed, while they are set to depart South Africa for home on April 19.
Aguilleira is focused on helping to groom the younger players.
“I think we have been lacking in certain areas, especially our batting, and we need to get it together as a team,” the 27-year-old wicketkeeper/bat said. “After all I think this tournament is going to show us where we are…we have five new players in the team so I guess we have to mould them as well. It’s all about the development process.”
Aguilleira, who led West Indies to a successful ICC Women’s Cricket T20 Challenge campaign in 2010 and a tour of South Africa in 2009, expects fluctuating weather, and wants her team to adapt “as fast as possible”. She is hoping her experience can help them to do so.
“The girls have been doing well; I’ve not been (in training) with them for the past few weeks, but I must say they have been doing pretty well, and all we have to do is continue what we’ve been doing.”
Concerning team selections, manager/coach Marjorie Thomas said all the players deserved their picks.
“We’re not just about taking persons because we have been playing for a while,” said Thomas. “We look at them, we see this person has been working hard, you may not be where you want to be right now, but that is what it’s all about; helping to develop the younger players.”
It is not the first time T&T have had a cricket tour, with their last trip being to England in 2011. Thomas says it helps motivate players to continue to work hard.
“We think at any time they need to get the international exposure, not just regional, because they play in the regional tournament. In order for us to play better we need to have better competition. From that stemmed the birth of this.”
Merissa Aguilliera (captain), Shenelle Lord (vice-captain), Alisa Mohammed, Amanda Samaroo, Britney Cooper, Chantl Emmanuel, Kamara Ragoobar, Gaitri Seetahal, Lee-Ann Kirby, Rackeal Bissoon, Samantha Bissoon, Selene O’Neil, Stacy-Ann King; Marjorie Thomas (manager/coach), John Trumpet (assistant coach), Wayne Samuel (trainer); Ann Browne-John (technical director).