ManagEment chat: Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board technical director and head coach David Williams, centre, chats with T&T manager Omar Khan and fellow national team coach Kelvin Williams at a T&T training session at Queen's Park Oval Port of Spain last Wednesday. The local players who are currently preparing for the January's Caribbean Twenty20 will be off for the Christmas holidays and will resume training on Thursday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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WEATHERING THE PROBLEMS

Coach Williams not thrilled with T20 build-up but still upbeat

By Roger Seepersad

Though not 100 per cent happy with the way the Trinidad and Tobago's Caribbean Twenty20 preparations have been going, coach David Williams is still pretty content with where the team has reached and is confident they will be where they need to be by the time the tournament bowls off on January 6.

One of the problems plaguing the national team has been the inclement weather in December which has kept the team indoors.

However, while the players did not get as many matches as they would have liked ahead of January's tournament, they did get in a few games and Williams was pleased, to an extent, with what he has seen so far.

"We are not extremely happy in terms of matches being played outside. You will always want to spend more time in the middle but the weather did not allow that. We did have a couple of games and from the last one the guys looked in good nick," he said referring to the first match of the North/South T20 Classic which was played at Queen's Park, Port of Spain last Thursday.

In that match, North batted first and piled up 199 for three off 20 overs with Lendl Simmons and William Perkins both scoring half centuries.

Perkins blasted 71 off 42 balls in an aggressive 123-run first wicket stand with Simmons, who offered good support to his opening partner with a 50-ball 58.

There were also a lot of boundaries in the match, with Perkins hitting four sixes and six fours and Simmons blasting four sixes and one four against an attack that included T&T T20 bowlers Samuel Badree, Shannon Gabriel, Yannick Ottley and Sherwin Ganga.

Before the T20 Classic, the T&T team played two practice matches against domestic T20 champions Queen's Park Cricket Club at the Oval in place of a three-match T20 series against Canada which was cancelled at the last minute.

The national team won both games against the Parkites and Perkins also showed good from in that series, scoring 29 off 27 balls in the first match and 50 off 32 balls in second.

Badree also had good games against the Parkites, taking four wickets for five runs in the second match and one for 23 in the first.

And from the three competitive matches they played so far, T&T have fared better when they have batted first.

In the first game against the Parkites, T&T were set 100 to win and laboured to their target off 19.3 overs with seven wickets down.

After that, they batted first and scored 150 for eight against the same opponents and 199 for three against South.

Williams said he was pleased to see the batsmen getting some runs under their belts before the tournament but at the same time, he was a little concerned that his bowlers were going for a lot of runs in the process.

In the North/South Classic, leg-spinner Badree bowled four overs for 38 runs and had three sixes and two fours scored off his bowling, while pacer Gabriel took one for 40 and had two sixes and three fours coming off him. Spinners Sherwin Ganga and Yannick Ottley, who are also part of the T&T's Caribbean T20 line-up, had figures of zero for 34 and zero for 35 respectively in the T20 Classic. All four bowlers represented South in the game.

"It is a case where you want the batters to have a hit and bowlers to bowl well. You can always say the batters did a very good job and it is good to see them getting runs but when your bowlers go for that amount of runs, it is always a concern," the coach pointed out. "But we have some time to put that right before New Year."

One reasons Williams may not be too concerned with the bowling at the moment could be that T&T will have players coming into the team to strengthen the line-up for the actual tournament.

The team's bowling department will be strengthened when off-spinner Sunil Narine, pacer Ravi Rampaul and all-rounder Kevon Cooper join the side.

Rampaul and Cooper are both recovering from knee injuries and according to manager Omar Khan, both will ready for the Caribbean T20. Narine and big-hitter Kieron Pollard will join the team after returning from the Australian Big Bash T20 tournament early next month.

And with so many good players in their line-up, skipper Denesh Ramdin knows the pressure will be on T&T to deliver the goods and win their third straight Caribbean T20 title.

Speaking at the launch of the 2013 Caribbean T20 tournament on Saturday, Ramdin said: "Hopefully with our experience, we can go out there and really do well. We know everyone will be coming out to beat us because we are the team to beat but the team has been training for the last three months and I know the players really want to do well for Trinidad and Tobago.

Of his lineup, Ramdin explained that they had some young players and some experienced ones with the likes of former West Indies Under-19 players top order batsman Evin Lewis and all-rounder Yannick Ottley mixed in with the experience of T20 globe-trotters Pollard, Narine and Dwayne Bravo.

"We have some youths in the team and we are definitely looking to play some exciting cricket," the West Indies wicketkeeper added.

He was also pleased to see his batsmen doing well in the lead-up to the tournament.

"Practice matches are very important (at this stage in our preparation) and it is good to see the guys coming into some form," Ramdin added.

And while T&T will be favourites to win the title for a third time in four attempts, Ramdin and his players will be trying to keep themselves grounded and one way to do that is by remembering what happened in 2010 when they had to settle for third place, with Guyana going on to win the competition.

Ramdin said being complacent was one of the reasons behind their loss in the inaugural tournament and that they will not be making that mistake again.

"We are not going to take any team lightly...We are playing a different brand of cricket at the moment and people are really enjoying watching our cricket," he added.

Coach Williams will be keeping an eye on the weather in the coming week as they hope to have two more practice matches over the weekend.

T&T take on the Windward Islands in their final warm-up match on January 3 before they head into camp a day later ahead of their opener against Jamaica on January 6.

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