Trinidad and Tobago Red Force skipper Kieron Pollard said that nothing beats winning for your country and that his team’s clinical 152-run victory over the Guyana Jaguars in the CG Insurance Super50 final on Saturday night was a special moment for himself, his teammates and for T&T.
Led by Lendl Simmons’ superb career-best 146 off 145 balls, Red Force piled up a massive 362 for five off their 50 overs after they were sent into bat first for the first time in the tournament at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.
Simmons, who was named Man of the Match, struck 15 fours and seven sixes off 145 balls to register the highest score of this year’s tournament, as well as the highest score by a Trinidadian in the 46 years of the event—surpassing the 134 made by Denesh Ramdin in 2013.
It was also his second century of this year’s tournament and lifted the Red Force to their second highest score of all time and the fifth highest total in Super50 history.
After dominating with the bat, the Red Force pacers led by veteran Ravi Rampaul, rookie Jayden Seales and Anderson Phillip, ripped through the heart of the Jaguars’ batting line-up to dismiss them for 210 off 43.5 overs to secure their 13th title and first since 2016.
“It is special,” Pollard declared after the match. “Anything you do you want to do it to the best of your ability, and I have only been honest and straightforward with the guys, letting them know how I want to play and how we should play as a team and that winning mentality and you go all around the world and win titles bit there is nothing better than winning for your country and for the region. It is just a matter of the giving the guys that sort of confidence and coming in when needed,” he added.
T&T played unbeaten in the tournament, winning all five of their preliminary round matches, the semi-final and then the final and Pollard insisted that “Winning is the only thing, let’s get that straight.”
“No matter what, every time you get the opportunity to step on the cricket field, you want to do well as an individual and a team and you want to win. So, I thank God for giving us the opportunity to come out here and actually prove that we are the best team in the Caribbean this year,” he added.
While they dominated throughout the tournament, the Red Force had to overcome some obstacles before the start of the tournament. The new head coach David Furlonge was only appointed at the start of December last. There has been no domestic cricket in T&T since March last year due to Covid-19 restrictions; all team sports were put on hold for most of the year forcing players to rely on individual training and sessions with small groups of players.
It was only in November that national teams were allowed to resume full team training sessions. The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board was also denied permission to host a four-team competition to help prepare the Red Force for the tournament in January meaning the team had to rely on a handful of trial matches to get in practice.
The team also only came together in full days before their first match with seven players, including the skipper, joining the camp after competing in the Dubai T10.
“Preparations were good with the guys training since October. Then guys joined the team after different tournaments and then we actually left the team and went off the Dubai and then joined back with the team just before the start of the tournament so kudos to the management staff for the preparation so that when we got here, it was just a matter of gelling together and playing cricket,” Pollard explained.
“We came, we saw, we overcame adversity and we conquered. This is what we came here for…tonight we demonstrated our strength in the batting and the bowling,” he added.