“CHARACTER” was the buzzword for Trinidad and Tobago’s senior cricketers after they eked out a three-wicket win over hosts and five-time defending champions Jamaica yesterday at Sabina Park.
T&T, in pursuit of 179 for victory, slipped from an overnight position of 54 for two to 73 for six after skipper Denesh Ramdin was bowled for 11. But a fighting 50 not out from all-rounder Imran Khan—supported by Steven Katwaroo (32) and Rayad Emrit (25 not out) put T&T into Thursday’s final.
While T&T fans on Twitter, and on the match’s live stream social media feed were urging the national team on and celebrating their fighting spirit, T&T officials were also praising the team’s positive attitude.
“It was a fantastic effort. It was a real fight,” T&T manager Omar Khan told the Express yesterday by phone after the match. “Down to the end the guys rally showed a lot of character. In the batting department we continue to struggle, but Imran Khan and young Katwaroo gave us a partnership (of 57) and we really fought.
“And then Imran and Rayad Emrit. We knew we had batting to the end, but at the end of the day the guys have to be commended.”
T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) chairman of selectors Dudnath Ramkessoon was also a proud man after T&T pulled off the victory.
Said Ramkessoon: “Having been led on first innings to come back and win the game outright shows some character. I think some of the young players really performed creditably. The whole fight and determination to defeat Jamaica in Jamaica and (hand them) their first loss of the season will do their confidence (a lot of) good.
“With what transpired in the past, not a lot of people gave us a chance. But the team played and as I said before the season, if the players play as we know they can, they can emerge victorious.”
Khan put the winning performance down to “pride…and personal reputations at stake”, and said T&T were keen to redeem themselves after heavy losses in the Regional Four-Day and Super50 matches. He also said T&T had not been in a regional four-day final “in a while”.
Despite their middle order slip, Khan said the T&T technical team urged the players to not give up.
“We told them ‘keep fighting, it isn’t over yet’. We had hope because young Katwaroo was batting well. We just needed a partnership,” he explained. “Once we passed the 100 mark we broke it down to tens and fives until we achieved the total. We told them ‘there’s lots of time, we just have to occupy the crease’.”
The manager was also very impressed with the bowling of pacer Marlon Richards.
“Marlon has been a revelation in that he did exactly what was required of him in picking up early wickets.
“Khan added: “He broke the back of the Jamaican batting quite early in the game and it really set them back. He bowls that consistent line and length and gets movement of the ball, and he’s doing the right things.”
The T&T manager believes T&T—who last won the League portion of the regional four-day tournament in 2006—can emulate 2007’s victory in the regional four-day Challenge final over Barbados with a repeat of yesterday’s performance.
“The whole team spirit, that fighting never-say-die attitude....we have to go out there, do the basics right, (get) more consistency,” Khan stated. “We have the ability there is no question, but in sport (it) is much more than that, more intelligence application, brainwork, those are the kinds of things that will make the difference.”
Up to press time last night T&T had not yet confirmed whether they would return home first or head directly to Barbados for the final. Ramkessoon also could not confirm whether there will be changes to the squad, which will be discussed today.