Sunday, February 25, 2018

...Ramkessoon 'happy' for T&T opener


That's how Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) chairman of selectors Dudnath Ramkessoon described opener Adrian Barath's call-up to the West Indies team for the current home tour against Australia.

The call-up means the 21-year-old right hand batsman will miss T&T's final West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional Four-Day Tournament preliminary fixture against Leeward Islands in St Kitts.

Barath is one of two in-form Trinidad and Tobago batsmen to miss the match, with Kevon Cooper off to his first stint in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

"We know his ability (Barath), we know he had a drought when he was not producing (runs) based on his ability," Ramkessoon told the Express. "What is refreshing is his approach (in that match). It was like the old Barath that made his century on (Test) debut (versus Australia). We saw batsmanship of a high level."

Barath scored 114 against Guyana in the regional tournament on Sunday at Queen's Park Oval, his first T&T match back from injury after suffering a fractured finger against Barbados earlier this season. Cooper also hit a half-century.

The diminutive opener had struggled for form this year, but Ramkessoon is encouraged by Barath's performance.

"We told him remember your (previous) innings how you played," the TTCB vice-president explained. "He went out there and did exactly that. Yes we have lost him, but we're happy he went back. He's certain a bright talent at West Indies need all players on deck."

But the loss of those players means that Trinidad and Tobago, who are missing at least nine frontline players due to injury or international duty, will field an even less experienced batting line up than that which was battered by 193 runs by Jamaica two rounds ago.

Still Ramkessoon is hopeful the replacement players, Akeal Hosein and Evin Lewis, will step in and grab the opportunity to help T&T win and qualify for the semi-finals.

"We have selected the best team available at this point in time. We selected this team on the basis that they can win. They have the ability to perform. But the players have to go out there and do it. They have to make the necessary adjustment and if they do that we will emerge victorious."

Ramkessoon expects in the future T&T will continue to see a trend where their best players are not available for regional matches. This means the TTCB has to continue to produce players that can perform at the regional level.

"Let's not fool ourselves (and think) that this is a one-off situation," he said. "You will have places for West Indies and IPL and so Champions League showcase their talent up there. So we will always find ourselves in difficulty. We'll have to look at reserves and strengthen them to ensure (T&T) can compete."

Ramkessoon also said the fact that Trinidad and Tobago are missing so many players is a testament to the success of the T&T Board.

"It makes us proud to know some of the programmes we had in place over the years where the youngsters come through. A lot of work needs to be done to see the success of the youngsters over the years. That is heartening, because it gives you a sense of satisfaction. It gives you the inspiration to continue to do the work."

Still Ramkessoon wants skipper Rayad Emrit's men to guard against complacency against the cellar-placed Leewards.

"We cannot underestimate the Leewards and we must ensure some of the (more experienced) players (in the current squad step up)," Ramkessoon said. "It's an opportunity for those being give an opportunity to show they can perform at this level and you earn a place on the side when the senior players return."

T&T squad:

Rayad Emrit (captain), Justin Guillen, Akeal Hosein, Marlon Barclay, Jason Mohammed (vice-captain), Aneil Kanhai, Imran Khan, Gibran Mohammed, Evin Lewis, Shannon Gabriel, Kavesh Kantasingh, Teshawn Castro, Emile Rajah.

–See Page 60