Having already lost power-hitter Kieron Pollard and mystery spinner Sunil Narine, Trinidad and Tobago continued the haemorrhage in the June 5 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) draft in Montego Bay in Jamaica. That does not seem to bother officials of the local franchise, the Red Steel, who claim not to be surprised by the development.
“Trinidad has unquestionably some of the best T20 players in the region and the world,” Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath told Wired868. “If the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) seriously wanted this CPL tournament to be a success, such a free flowing of players had to occur. And after Narine and Pollard were chosen as franchise players, we expected this sort of exodus of our players to occur in this draft basically.
“And I saw captain Dwayne Bravo, who was involved with head coach Gordon Greenidge in the team selection tweet that he was happy with his team; so am I.”
But should the Red Steel be allowed to identify itself as the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel?
The TTCB does not think so.
“While the team will be captained by national player Dwayne Bravo, it is not a national team and should not be named, such that the words ‘Trinidad and Tobago’ or the word ‘Trinidad’ be included in the naming or branding of the franchise,” stated the local board, in a press statement. “Our Board is not involved in any way, in the selection of players or team officials, or in the organisation and management of the franchise or of the matches to be played at the Queen’s Park Oval.
“The CPL is a private tournament sanctioned by the WICB (West Indies Cricket Board), and run by a private organisation.”
Trinidad and Tobago international spinner Samuel Badree agreed.
“I think the names should not be that of the countries,” said Badree, in an interview. “They need to come up with something creative. To have (Kieron) Pollard (of Trinidad) playing for Barbados and calling the team Barbados does not make sense and won’t reflect what they are trying to achieve with the CPL.”
Badree will represent the Red Steel and there might be consolation in the fact that the local-based team is considered one of the favourites to capture the regional prize.
“We got a good team,” said Red Steel assistant coach David Williams who played 11 Tests and 36 One-day Internationals for the West Indies between 1992 and 1998. “We would have liked to have gotten better players but that’s the nature of draft. We knew this was likely to happen beforehand.
“We have been the number one team in T20 for a long time; obviously other teams were going to mark out our players.”
When the selection of franchise players was made on 12 February 2013, Pollard, arguably the most successful member of the most successful Twenty20 team in regional cricket history, was consigned to the Barbados Tridents. And Narine, indisputably the team’s most successful T20 bowler, was lost to the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Now, earlier this month, the country whose team has won four of the six domestic tournaments since 2006 (one Stanford T20 title and three time Caribbean T20 titles) has kept none of its three pace bowlers for its own franchise.
In fact, when the last draft was over, just five of those players who would generally make up a full-strength T&T T20 XI, the Bravo brothers, Dwayne and Darren, veteran leg-spinner Samuel Badree, opening batsman Adrian Barath and fast-bowling allrounder Kevon Cooper found themselves in the Red Steel’s ranks.
Pacers Ravi Rampaul, Shannon Gabriel and Rayad Emrit were snapped up by the Jamaica Tallawahs and Barbados Tridents while captain and regular wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin and attacking top-order batsmen Lendl Simmons and William Perkins found themselves contracted by the Guyana Franchise. Also going to Guyana, where he will serve as logistic and media manager, was long-time T&T team manager Omar Khan.
The Antigua Hawksbills dusted off virtually forgotten left-arm chinaman bowler Dave Mohammed and stuffed him into their stocking.
But neither Bassarath nor Williams foresees a problem. Both seem to take the view that T&T’s loss is the CPL’s gain.
“I believe that our players being spread around the various franchise teams,” he commented, “could aid the CPL in being a far more competitive competition than the WICB Caribbean T20.”
Bassarath noted how T&T may have gained on the swings what it lost on the slides.
“We have quality foreign acquisition,” he told Wired868, “in someone like Sulieman Benn who has proven himself over the years as one of the top T20 spinners in regional cricket.
Williams also chose to look on the brighter side.
“Not being able to choose any of our three fast bowlers in Emrit, Gabriel and Rampaul was a bit disappointing,” said Williams. “But we still got back two very good Bajan quicks in Fidel Edwards and Miguel Cummins and the talented Windwards left-arm pacer Delorn Johnson in the draft, so it’s a fair result at the end of the day.”
Discussing the merits of the local players who will make up the numbers of the Red Steel, Bassarath pointed to top-order batsman Justin Guillen and wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran.
“I believe young Nicholas Pooran, who made his domestic debut this season and impressed, has a big future ahead of him,” said Bassarath.
When Wired868 deemed Guillen’s selection surprising since his record for Trinidad across all formats has been relatively poor in recent seasons, Williams responded that the squad selection had been handled by Bravo and Greenidge.
Asked about the non-selection of other local players such as all-rounder Imran Khan and fast bowler Marlon Richards who have been more consistent in recent times, Williams repeated the response.
Bassarath urged the local public to come out and support the Trinidad franchise and said that he was confident the tournament would live up to expectations.
“So I encourage the cricket public in Trinidad to come out,” he ended, “and support the team and play their part in making the first edition of the CPL a resounding success.”
Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel squad: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Samuel Badree, Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Yannick Cariah, Kevon Cooper, Miguel Cummins, Fidel Edwards, Aaron Finch, Justin Guillen, Delorn Johnson, Kevin O’Brien, Nicholas Pooran, Ross Taylor. Coach: Gordon Greenidge, Assistant coach: David Williams.