The Trinidad and Tobago Under-19 squad will tackle Guyana in the second round of the WICB Regional Under-19 Three-day Championship in St Kitts starting today, needing a win to get their campaign back on track.
The Vikash Mohan-led side lost first innings points in their opening round draw against Jamaica at Molineaux, which is also the venue for their second round clash.
T&T’s batting let them down against the Jamaicans when they were dismissed for 169 after bowling out the opposition for 219 in their first innings.
Camillo Carimbocas was T&T’s best batsman in the first innings, scoring 42.
Off-break bowler Bryan Charles took eight wickets in the match, with four in each innings as Jamaica were blown away for 110 in their second innings.
T&T were 103 for seven at stumps on the final day with Jeremy Solozano, last year’s leading run-scorer in the competition, unbeaten on 57.
T&T’s title hopes will still be high, even after losing first innings and they come up against a Guyanese side beaten by Barbados in the opening round.
The local squad had to overcome some challenges ahead of their first match with some of the players getting their luggage after the first day’s play was already complete.
Manager Roland Sampath said the players had to share equipment and clothes with each other for the first day of the fixture and said it did have an effect on the squad but it was still not an excuse.
“There were about eight dropped catches in the first innings and some missed opportunities,” the manager said.
“We had to try and keep them upbeat and keep them focused. They were much better in the second innings and could have gone on to win but there were two rain interruptions which set us back.”
Asked about the fast bowler Clevon Kalawan only bowling two overs in the second innings, Sampath said it was a tactical move to use the spinners with the wicket offering plenty of turn for leg-spinner Jesse Bootan, left-arm orthodox spinner Jovan Ali and standout Charles.
The manager also revealed that ahead of their second match today, half of the team was down with the virus but insisted: “The guys are young, they are upbeat and they want to play. They are going to come out fighting.”
T&T coach Kelvin Williams knew the tournament would be tough on the field of play but he probably did not anticipate the off-the-field problems his team would have had to overcome.
He was quietly confident ahead of the tournament, noting the experience of his charges.
Speaking to the Express before leaving for St Kitts last week, Williams said: “This year we have another good squad on paper but at the end of the day, when you go out there you need to perform.
“I am quietly confident. At the end of the day we are going to be up there somewhere, if we play the kind of cricket we know they are capable of.
“It is a good squad. It is a well balanced squad. If you look at it, about 11 of the guys played in the T&T Under-15 squad which was a championship winning squad in 2010 so I think they know everyone and the camaraderie there is good.
“About six of the guys are returning from last year’s tournament and that brings in a lot of experience to the set up so I am looking forward for good things from them,” the coach added.
As far as their pre-tournament preparations were concerned, Williams was happy with the work the players put in with trainer Adarayll John and was hoping they could peak during the long tournament which ends on August 20.
Williams also noted that he is looking for improvement in the fast bowling department, which he described as crucial.
Teams get 0.1 bonus points for each wicket taken by a fast bowler. T&T only got 0.2 bonus points from their opening round draw with Queen’s Park Cricket Club pacer Tion Webster grabbing two wickets in the second innings against Jamaica.
“Last year it was 0.5 and Barbados won the (three-day) tournament by taking 30 plus wickets and we only took 12 but this year we have Tion Webster, Al Small from last year and Clevon Kalawan from Clarke Road. Those are the three main quickies and we also have Brian Christmas and Jeremy Solozano who bowl some medium pace,” Williams explained.
“Trinidad always depends a lot on spin bowling which over the years has been our strength and we have quality spinners in there.
“Jovan Ali is in his third year; Jesse Bootan (leg-spin) is Queen’s Park’s spinner and Premiership man. We have Bryan Charles and Justin Joseph (left-arm orthodox) so we have variety. We have a good balance in the spin bowling department,” the coach insisted.
He added: “Expectations were high last year. They did not live up to it. This year we are working hard to make sure we do not repeat what went on last year.
“Those who were there last year know how tough the tournament is. They are going to bring their experience. They play Premiership cricket also, so it is nice to have people with that kind of experience.
“They have been playing at the highest level of cricket in Trinidad and Tobago and we expect that they will be able to handle the pressure,” Williams said.
Regional Under-19 Three-day Championship fixtures:
Round 2: July 23-25
T&T vs Guyana, EGSC Molineaux
Leewards vs Barbados, Conaree
Windwards vs Jamaica, Warner Park