Colin E. H. Croft
When captain Denesh Ramdin and his Red Force team left Trinidad & Tobago earlier this week, they, more than likely, had a bit more on their always very confident minds than just trying to play excellent T-20 cricket or planning to get to knock-out stages, even probably winning Champions League T-20 2013/14.
In the back of their minds, or in the minds of the team’s think tank, must have been, or at least should have been, thoughts that this could very well be their final fling as a playing unit in international tournaments, representing the Caribbean with all players as fully indigenous natives of Trinidad & Tobago!
As official sporting ambassadors for the twin island republic, Red Force 2013/14 know that they have a tremendous heritage to uphold in CLT-20 2013/14, a very high standard that has been set by this particular team themselves in past competitions in which they had been included.
They certainly have made a splash!
With Caribbean Premier League more than likely to produce our representatives for Champion League T-20 2014/15, Red Force, who have done brilliantly last half decade, will want to finish with a great flourish.
Already, the team based in T&T for CPL, “Red Steel”, comprises several players not born in T&T, some, as is the norm elsewhere, not even born in the region.
CLT-20 2013/14 is likely the very last bastion of special, single, real “home” representation, for any country or island involved in Caribbean cricket.
When they easily beat Jamaica in that first Stanford final in February 2008, by an overwhelming nine wickets, with 64 deliveries still remaining, that started a fantastic, well-orchestrated journey that has seen Red Force represent the region in all but one of Champions Leagues T-20 competitions to date.
Only Guyana, who won Caribbean T-20 in 2010, beating Barbados by just one run, with one delivery remaining, thusly representing the Caribbean at CLT 2010/2011, had managed to break the almost stranglehold that T&T seemed to have had on the ambassadorial role for our country/club cricketers.
T&T’s fully dynamic bowlers in that inaugural Stanford final were Ryad Emrit, Samuel Badree, Sherwin Ganga, Dwayne Bravo and Dave Mohammed, whose 4-20 from 4 overs made him “Man of the Final.”
William Perkins, Ramdin and Lendl Simmons quickly slashed 92 required in 9.2 overs, captain Darren Ganga’s men winning at a canter. The rest of that 2008 team were Kieron Pollard and Richard Kelly.
Since then, Trinidad & Tobago has suffered somewhat from its own successes, with some of the players no longer in that team five years later.
Others, in a way, have defected to richer, more prosperous pastures, continually balancing that choice of playing for country or club/franchise that pays much more.
In 2013/14, T&T’s team is much changed. Ramdin, Badree, Emrit, Simmons and Sherwin Ganga are still there, all matured, for both country and region, over the last five years, but there are new faces too.
Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo, 23 and 24 respectively, are just starting to achieve real cricketing maturity, while 25 year old Shannon Gabriel has recently emerged as a fast bowler with much potential.
Ravi Rampaul, at 28, has again recovered from injury and has done really well for T&T and West Indies since making his international debut in 2007, while 30 year old Navin Stewart, and especially Sunil Narine, who at 25 has already perplexed the world’s best batsmen in T-20’s, make up the bowling attack.
Two nearly 22 year olds, left handed Evin Lewis and right handed Yannick Ottley, have pushed into T&T’s team with superlative batting efforts, while the emergence of 17 year old wicket-keeper batsman Nicholas Pooran has been mercurial. Always hustling Jason Mohammed completes team and batting line-ups.
But it the players that Red Force has lost along the way, but whom will still play against them in CLT-20 2013/14, that seems amazing, all tremendously talented and game changing personnel.
Dwayne Bravo plays for Chennai Super Kings, Kieron Pollard appears for Mumbai Indians, and Kevon Cooper represents Rajasthan Royals.
Trinidad & Tobago have produced almost two full T-20 teams!
Red Force’s finest hour was certainly the 2009/10 CLT-20 final, when, highly unfancied to get that far in the competition, they met, and lost that final game to Australia’s New South Wales.
It was not close, NSW winning by 41 runs, courtesy of a superb all-round display by former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, who made 48 from 31 deliveries, including five sixes, then getting 2-10 from two overs.
In 2011/12, T&T had to play in a qualifying tournament, even after doing so well in 2009/10. It was deemed by organizers that Guyana’s effort in 2010/11 was so poor that next West Indies representatives would have to qualify. That T&T did, with aplomb too, even if they did not get to the eventual final four!
In 2012/13, T&T had to qualify again, but could not even get to that 2nd rung.
Now, for probably the final time ever as a country unit, T&T’s Red Force has to pull out all of the stops, to win CLT-20 2013/14. Enjoy!
Pic – T&T Red Force
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