Trinidad and Tobago Red Force head coach David Furlonge believes they have checked all the boxes in terms of selecting a team capable breaking their title drought in the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Super50 Cup, which takes place next month in Antigua, even though they will assemble just days before the first ball is bowled.
The Red Force squad was announced on Friday and it is packed with experienced players and proven match-winners.
Kieron Pollard will lead the side, who have not won the Super50 Cup since 2016, while Darren Bravo will serve as vice-captain. The team also includes West Indies players Sunil Narine, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Ravi Rampaul and Nicholas Pooran.
“I think it is a good squad made up of youth and experience, and some of the youth are experienced as well,” Furlonge said of the team.
“We have a good balance in the side with three fast bowlers and Pollard will complement that as well, and we also have four spinners. If you look at the team, I think we have all-round strength,” he added.
“We have strength in all areas. We have the deft touch in Denesh Ramdin and Bravo. We have the bowling strength in Ravi and Anderson Phillip, along with young Jayden Seales; and in the spin department we have Imran Khan along with Akeal Hosein, Khary Pierre and Sunil Narine. So I think we have a good, balanced all-round team,” Furlonge insisted.
While Furlonge admitted the preparations and build-up towards the tournament haven’t been ideal, he is happy with how the team has progressed since taking the reins just over a month and a half ago.
While rain washed out a few of the Red Force trial/practice matches in late December and early January, and while the team is now settled, six of the players will be flying out to Abu Dhabi this week for the Abu Dhabi T10 league, which is set to take place from January 28 to February 6 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
The players taking part in the T10 league include skipper Pollard, Narine, Lewis, Rampaul, Simmons and Pooran.
“Preparations went fairly well. I would not say it went just the way I wanted. The only point of concern is that the top batsmen in Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo, they haven’t had an innings of 20 or 30 overs where they had to bat. So that is my concern, the length of time they have had out in the middle, but we’ll work on that as much as possible when we assemble in Antigua,” Furlonge explained.
As for the full team assembling days before their first match, the Red Force coach doesn’t expect that to have a significant impact on their readiness for the tournament.
The full squad is expected to assemble for the first time in Antigua, with Jason Mohammed, Kjorn Ottley and Akeal Hosein coming back from the West Indies ODI tour of Bangladesh to join the team, along with the players returning from the T10 league.
“It would not impact our preparations strongly. It may impact the team gelling together, but they are all professional players and they are all familiar with each other. They are leaving to play cricket in a competitive environment, so they will be training and playing, so when we meet a couple of days before our tournament starts it will be enough time for them to come together as a team,” said Furlonge.
“We are still waiting on confirmation of travel and quarantine arrangements, but the players that are going off to Abu Dhabi, they will get into Antigua around February 6, and then go into three days of quarantine before linking up with the rest of the Red Force squad. All those players who are out there, they are professionals and they know what they have to do to be ready, so they will do the required work up there,” he added.
Looking ahead to the tournament, Furlonge said the T&T franchise will be aiming for perfection from game one.
“You don’t want to have any errors and you want to stay perfect as much as possible, so the important thing is to get off to a good start and take it from there,” the Red Force coach stated.
The players remaining in Trinidad will continue their preparations with three training sessions this week at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva, and are expected to leave the country towards the end of January.
Red Force squad:
Kieron Pollard (captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Darren Bravo (vice-captain), Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Kjorn Ottley, Anderson Phillip, Khary Pierre. David Furlonge (coach), Sebastian Edwards (manager), Lyndon Knights (physiotherapist), Clinton Jeremiah (trainer), Kelly Sankar (masseur).