As far as the final placing goes, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force coach Mervyn Dillon has met his personal target.
The Red Force were confirmed as runners-up to new winners of the four-day West Indies Championship, Barbados Pride, on Tuesday after Cricket West Indies announced it was cancelling the final two rounds of the competition because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Realistically, based on the goals I set, I was always going to be happy with a top three finish,” Dillon told the Express yesterday.
The Red Force ended on 94.6 points, to finish behind new champions Barbados Pride (134.8) and former five-time champs Guyana Jaguars and the Jamaica Scorpions who were joint third (91.8).
It was the T&T franchise’s best-ever finish since the Professional Cricket League era began in 2014. Last season they were third.
Commenting on the abrupt end to the competition which had been initially suspended for 30 days, Dillon said: ”I can’t disagree with the decision based on the unpredictability of the situation.”
However, the Red Force coach was quick to acknowledge the new winners. “Congrats to Barbados for the wonderful season they have had. They played some really good cricket. They took their chances, they seemed to put a good unit together,” he said.
However, reflecting on his first full season in charge after replacing Kelvin Williams midway through the 2018-2019 campaign, Dillon saw more highs than lows.
Among his highlights was the big team totals that the Red Force amassed over the eight matches, as they crossed 500 once, 400 twice and also got 350 or more twice. The Red Force also got centuries from seven different batsmen.
“To see us put scores on the board above 300 was a good achievement by the batters. We finished with the most centuries (eight). Those things you have to give them credit for. We haven‘t been close to that in the recent past,” Dillon said.
The coach was also pleased with many individual players. “Akeal Hosein (spin bowling all-rounder) I thought was pretty tremendous throughout the season,” he added. “(Wicketkeeper/batsman) Joshua Da Silva did really well. I give him a lot of credit. You saw him look pretty comfortable on surfaces where the rest of his teammates were not comfortable. That says a lot about his grit and determination. He should have had 100, 200 runs more.”
Coach Dillon was also happy to see the development of a pool of seam bowling talent led by Anderson Phillip.
Just back from injury, Phillip was influential in the Red Force’s strong finish to the season, with separate six-wicket hauls in a single innings in the wins over the Pride and Windward Islands Volcanoes. Those wins quieted the storm created by the dropping of former captain Denesh Ramdin who responded with public criticism of Dillon and chairman of selectors Tony Gray.
However, Dillon said without direct reference to Ramdin: “When you look at the last couple games we had, the guys responded, it sort of brought out the best in them...If you going to have change, there is going to be resistance.”
Looking ahead to next season, Dillon said he wanted to see further improvement in the team’s level of fitness, and he also wanted his players to “be more prepared for difficult wickets...We need to play on more varied surfaces,” he said. “It’s not that they are not capable, but it takes some time to get used to seaming wickets where the ball swings.”