Jeremy Solozano

HARD WORKER: Trinidad and Tobago Red Force opener Jeremy Solozano. —Photo: ROGER SEEPERSAD

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force opening batsman Jeremy Solozano is looking to make full use of his Test call-up to try and cement a place in the regional side during the upcoming two-Test series in Sri Lanka.

Solozano is the only uncapped player in the Test team that will travel to Sri Lanka this weekend and the left-hander has already gotten a vote of confidence from the Cricket West Indies chief selector Roger Harper and Red Force head coach David Furlonge.

Harper said Solozano’s display of “application, patience and composure” encouraged the selection panel to give him the nod ahead of opening batsmen Kieran Powell and John Campbell, who were both overlooked for the tour.

Despite this being his first assignment with the Test team, Solozano is confident that all the training and extra work he has put in over the years has prepared him for the challenges ahead.

“My first reaction was to give thanks to Jesus Christ for really blessing me with this opportunity and I am really excited and looking forward for it,” Solozano told the Sunday Express.

“I definitely feel prepared and ready because I serve a true and living God. I got in a few games to get some match practice and I spent some time out in the middle and I think that helped me a lot,” he continued.

“Even before the matches, we were doing a lot of training back home in Trinidad, using the outdoor nets (at the National Cricket Centre). I have been training hard and doing a lot of batting with the Red Force team. I also do my personal work on my batting so, yes, I think I am ready mentally, physically and emotionally and I am looking forward to the journey ahead,” he added.

“I want to grab this opportunity with both hands and make full use of it, do my best and enjoy it and try to contribute as much as possible to the team. Once I do that, I think I will do well. I would just like to say thanks to everyone, especially my parents, family and loved ones and all my coaches over the years who have worked tirelessly with me and believed in me.”

Meanwhile, Solozano’s Red Force coach Furlonge, who was previously also his coach at Queen’s Park Cricket Club, is also confident that the player “is ready for the next level.”

“He has been working hard. He was a reserve player with the West Indies team in 2019 and I know he has been putting in the work daily at the National Cricket Centre and at the Oval and I really think he is ready for the next step. He has played for the A team, was a reserve and now he is in the Test team. He took the opportunity in the trial (Best v Best) matches and proved he is ready to go to the next step which is the Test level,” Furlonge explained.

The Red Force coach said Solozano’s biggest asset is his resilience in the middle.

“He loves to bat long and spend time at the wicket,” said Furlonge.

“He is not easily flustered and that makes him ideal for the opening position and I think he is well suited for that position at that level,” he added.

Furlonge also noted that with all the talk about fitness standards, fitness was one thing he never had to worry about when it came to the 26-year-old Solozano.

“With the Red Force, Solozano has been putting in the hours of practice and one thing you don’t have to worry about is him attaining the fitness levels. He has passed all the fitness tests that we have had down here,” the coach revealed.

“He also does extra work with the bowing machine outside of the regular Red Force training. He also has been working at the Oval, so he has been working hard on specific areas of his game that needed strengthening and I think getting that 74 in the trial game shows that he is getting there and he is ready to reap the rewards for his hard work,” Furlonge added.

Solozano has played 40 first-class matches since his debut eight years ago for the Red Force as a teenager.

He has scored only two centuries and eight half-centuries. Two of his half-centuries came in the aborted West Indies Championship in 2020.

West Indies leave this weekend for Sri Lanka where they feature in a four-day warm-up match in Colombo from November 14-17 before clashing with the hosts in the first Test from November 21 to 25 and the second from November 29 to December 3, both in Galle.

SQUAD

Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jeremy Solozano, Jomel Warrican.

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