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A Red Force to be reckoned with
In the end, the Red Force made it look all too easy. The T&T team went into the Caribbean T20 as favourites and lived up to expectations on Sunday, sweeping aside Guyana by nine wickets with 45 balls to spare at the Beausejour Cricket Ground, St Lucia.
It was a dominating performance by the defending champions, who gave their fans plenty to cheer about with a resounding victory that topped a brilliant run throughout the tournament. The Red Force, bolstered by seven players from last year’s West Indies’ ICC World T20-winning squad, delivered the firepower on the field that set them apart from the rest of the region.
They topped the standings following a five-wicket win over Barbados in their final round-robin match and after a four-day wait for the other finalist to qualify, showed no signs of rust as they dispensed with their Guyanese challengers. Congratulations to all the members of the team which, for the most part, presented as a strong, experienced unit.
Special mention must be made of Player of the Match Shannon Gabriel for his impressive bowling and Player of the Tournament Darren Bravo for his brilliant showing with the bat throughout the tournament.
Looking ahead to India, the T&T Cricket Board of Control (TTCBC) should make every effort to maintain the current team for those championships. It would be a shame if the T&T team, as the West Indies representative, is watered down by the departure of Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and other top players to their respective Indian franchises.
If that happens, the team will be nowhere near being the true Red Force needed in India to maintain the region’s recent strong showings in the shortest form of the game. It is important to send a team to the Champions League that will achieve and surpass the remarkable performance of the unit what went to the first edition of the CLT20 in 2009 and swept aside ten domestic teams from Australia, England, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka to get to the finals.
On that occasion, T&T was defeated in the final by the New South Wales Blues. However, a victory is possible the next time around if the current T&T team is sent to that tournament. The Red Force’s victory on Sunday night was particularly memorable because it was their fourth in what was the sixth and final regional T20 tournament to take place in that format.
Next year the Caribbean T20 will be replaced with a Caribbean Premier League involving city-based franchises rather than the current territorial set-up. Funding has already been agreed to for new retainer contracts for regional players, above and beyond the 20 main squad members already contracted. That means there won’t be another team T&T leading the charge in regional T20 cricket.
A strong Red Force showing in India will be a fitting, final display on that grand cricket stage.
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