CLT20 2013: Trinidad and Tobago pinning their hopes on fresh talent

Despite losing some of their top stars to IPL teams, Trinidad and Tobago have arrived in India with lots of hopes. They were presented with a fund of $1 million by the local government to ‘to play with pride, play with passion and make your [their] country proud.” © IANS

Denesh Ramdin-led Trinidad and Tobago won their first match in the Champions League Twenty20 2013 tournament in an impressive manner over the Australian T20 champions Brisbane Heat on Sunday. While the Caribbean side looks dangerous on paper once again despite the absence of some of their key stars, would they be able to make it big in their fourth appearance in the tournament? Devarchit Varma has more…

They are the champions from the Caribbean — the manner in which Trinidad and Tobago have dominated the local Twenty20 league in past few years has been unmatched. Arguably, the people in the Caribbean enjoy the shortest format of cricket the most, and the joy of following the game gets doubled when a team like Trinidad and Tobago — which is not only an immensely spirited side that plays its own brand of cricket — but also brings along many talented cricketers. But all this comes at a cost, which is they often end up losing some of those quality players to other sides.
On Sunday, Trinidad and Tobago produced yet another example of their brilliance by prevailing over the Australian champions Brisbane Heat in a low-scoring encounter in the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013. Despite posting a modest total of 135 for nine, the team from the Caribbean rode on an impressive show by their bowlers to register their first win in the tournament.
Imagine an edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) without the likes of Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Kevon Cooper, Dwayne Bravo and Ravi Rampaul. Will their respective teams remain the same? No. Imagine the Mumbai Indians taking the field oblivious to the existence of a certain Pollard. Think about a gritty Rajasthan Royals’s side that boasts of a talented Cooper. Kolkata Knight Riders’s bowling attack would certainly not be the same if Narine is chucked out. One doesn’t need to recall what value Dwayne Bravo carries for the Chennai Super Kings. They may have different qualities and roles but there is one thing in common in them — they all play for Trinidad and Tobago.
For years, Trinidad and Tobago have dominated the Caribbean T20 Regional tournament, and their fourth qualification out of five times in the CLT20 tournament speaks volumes about their firepower. A side that contains as many as six members of the ICC World T20 winning West Indies team can indeed be as good as any of the top sides in the current edition of the Champions League.
While Trinidad and Tobago’s dream run in the Caribbean league has continued, they haven’t really done justice to the label of being the Caribbean champs so far on the CLT20 stage. Barring the defeat to New South Wales (NSW) in 2009 and Guyana replacing them as a participant in the 2010 edition of the tournament, the team from the Caribbean hasn’t been able to achieve glory. This is often blamed to the drain of talent to the other sides, which certainly is among the reason for their failures. T&T has over time produced some of the most talented T20 players, but their absence in crucial stages of the CLT20 isn’t doing them any good.
While they have lost Pollard to Mumbai Indians, Cooper to Rajasthan Royals and the experienced campaigner Dwayne Bravo to Chennai Super Kings, the current outfit pins its hopes on those who have ample amount of experience of Indian conditions. The presence of Narine, Rampaul, Darren Bravo, young Nicolas Pooran and an in-form Lendl Simmons provide the T&T side enough to succeed in this edition.
Despite losing some of their top stars to IPL teams, T&T have arrived in India with lots of hopes. They were presented with a fund of $1 million by the local government to ‘to play with pride, play with passion and make your [their] country proud.” The players have also been motivated with a big pay cheque — every single member of the squad will receive $215,000 as a guaranteed payment, reports Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday.
While there are high monetary benefits associated with playing in the tournament, there are high hopes as well. Rampaul backs T&T to reach final of the tournament. The legendary Brian Lara is continuing his association with the team as a mentor. There are the experienced players and exciting young talent who can help T&T make it big this time.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)