Former Red Force selector Keno Mason isn’t holding any grudge after being axed from his post after just one season and is still open to being involved in the national team set up if called upon.
On Wednesday, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) officially announced that former national player Rajendra Mangalie was the new head of the senior selection panel responsible for picking TT Red Force teams. Mahadeo Bodoe was retained and Richard Kelly Jr was introduced for the first time, replacing another former T&T player, Mason.
Contacted by the Express, Mason said he had no problem with the TTCB’s decision but noted that he would have liked to make the selection process more transparent which is what he, along with Gray and former head coach Mervyn Dillon, was working towards.
“As it stands, the cricketers want to play cricket, select the teams and do administration...that is how I see it. It is a not a God-given right to be a selector, it is up to the Board. I put up myself to serve and if they see it fit to change me, that is their prerogative. I have not lost anything,” said Mason.
Asked about his tenure as a selector, Mason said, “It was a work in progress.” He was referring to a plan to introduce a standard for selecting player for trials and national teams at all levels that would give players who are serious about making it to the national team, a road map of how to get there.
“Myself, along with Tony and Mervyn wanted to be more transparent in how we select the team so that people in Trinidad will understand (the decisions) in terms of stats and ability and in terms of form, how we pick the team and that it is not by guess,” Mason explained.
“We wanted to change the philosophy and that is one thing I am disappointed (we never got to introduce), a philosophy that everyone in T&T, not just the senior cricketers but the administrators, youth cricketers, club cricketers, that if I want to play for Trinidad and Tobago, this is what I need to do and accomplish.
“This is what I need to do to get called to trials and when I get called to trials, this is what I need to do to make the team. In that way there is a standard and a philosophy so people won’t say ‘how they called John and not me to trials’ and that is how it is at this point in time.”
“I wanted to do that and we spoke about it and it would have been a policy by the selectors and signed off by the Board so we would have a standard. For example, if you’re a batsman and you score this amount runs in the national league, you get called for trials no matter what. You are a bowler and you get a certain amount of wickets, you get called for trials. In this way there is competition among players even when they play in the National League because players will know they have to perform and make a certain standard,” he continued.
Mason said he is still involved with coaching National League club Victoria United and also had a stint with Barbados Tridents and insisted that he is happy doing what he has been doing with his club.
“I am happy doing that and contributing to cricket in whatever way. Cricket is not the end all and be all. I don’t have to reach a level to be satisfied with what I do in cricket. I am happy coaching and if the TTCB want to invite me to be involved, I am still open,” he stated.
“I am satisfied with what I do in giving back to the game. I have no animosity towards anybody,” he added.
Looking back at his tenure, Mason noted that while the Red Force may have the most talented group of guys in the West Indies, “most of the players fall down mentally and we suffer from that.”
“Now when you can work on a guy one-on-one—I work with Uthman (Muhammad) one-on-one and I don’t mean fast-bowling, I mean mentally--you understand his strides and improve how he thinks and just open up his mind to what you can do as a cricketer,” said Mason.
“I think at that (national) level, everyone has the ability and talent and it is about the way people manage themselves mentally. I was very happy to see Uthman coming through and making an impression. Joshua (Da Silva) was always earmarked for results...he started to work harder and again it is more about getting to the mental stability and the mental awareness of how to do things to succeed and most of the time it is not technical, it is mental,” he continued.
“A lot of guys technically deficient but mentally strong and if you are mentally strong you will work and overcome those technical flaws they have and make runs.
“So being able to bat and being able to bowl is one thing, being able to take wickets and being able to score runs is another thing and that’s all I try to impart and pass on to the guys, how to make runs and how to take wickets instead of messing with the techniques and that sort of thing,” he added.