Fast-bowler Anderson Phillip and veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan will return to the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force for the next round of matches in the West Indies Championship next week after proving their fitness and form in domestic cricket over the past two weeks.
Phillip and Khan are just two of five players who will come into the team against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes in St Kitts, starting next Thursday.
Khan missed the Red Force’s first five matches due to a shoulder injury but took 14 wickets in two matches for his new club, Central Sports, and made scores of 102 not out, 37 and 30.
Phillip, who missed the same matches with a groin injury, grabbed four wickets in two matches for Queen’s Park.
Chairman of selectors Tony Gray said they had proven their fitness and welcomed their return for the start of the second half of the regional campaign.
Phillip was Red Force’s leading fast-bowler last season while Khan was the leading bowler overall.
Also returning are the QPCC duo of spinner Khary Pierre and batsman Isaiah Rajah, as well as former West Indies Under-19 batsman Cephas Cooper, who scored a century last weekend for PowerGen Sports.
Out are Denesh Ramdin, Yannic Cariah, Keagan Simmons, Kissoondath Magram and Daniel St Clair.
Gray said Cooper and Rajah made the cut based on form, adding Ramdin and Cariah would have to return to club cricket to regain their lost touch with the bat.
“(Form) is one of the criteria for picking players and I think Cariah has run out of form and hopefully, he can get back into local cricket and regain some form, and the same thing with Denesh Ramdin who has had three innings and has struggled a bit,”
He said Cooper and Rajah had shown good form and were players for the future.
“Cooper has shown great consistency in the trial games and has again showed he has some good form in local cricket, and the same for Rajah.”
Gray added that Khan and Phillip would boost the team’s bowling attack.
“It is the first time he (Khan) would have missed games for T&T in ten years and he has shown that ability to play for long periods and do well for T&T. He is perhaps the most successful spin bowler we have had when it comes to taking wickets at the regional level and he still shows that he is motivated to play at the highest level. He has proven his fitness and when it comes to taking wickets, he has also shown he is back to form. Anderson is also a key component for T&T going forward. I think Andy can give us another injection of aggression and pace and we know he can take wickets.” Asked about the team’s poor batting against Guyana Jaguars and Barbados Pride, Gray said, “Players have to be able to play outside their comfort zone.”
He added, “I think when you dissect what has happened in the T&T team (so far this season) is that what we have done well is play at home and playing in our comfort zone.”
Gray said the Brian Lara Cricket Academy pitch was docile and friendly for batting and players needed to make that transition to different playing conditions.
“Barbados was very quick and had some grass and the batsmen didn’t make that adjustment to the pace, bounce and movement. Guyana was a tough opposition also and the wicket was turning with experienced bowlers like (Veerasammy) Permaul and company and we had to make that mental adjustment and technical adjustment on those surfaces against better opposition,” Gray explained.
“We have to show a bit more commitment on surfaces we are not accustomed to playing on and we have to show the technical competence in terms of adjusting to the conditions.”
The Red Force leave on Monday for St Kitts.
RED FORCE SQUAD:
Yannick Ottley (Captain), Jeremy Solozano, Isaiah Rajah, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Mohammed, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Bryan Charles, Uthman Muhammad, Anderson Phillip, Terrance Hinds, Cephas Cooper, Khary Pierre. Mervyn Dillon (Coach), David Furlonge (Manager).