T&T cricketers, needing to win their two matches in the qualifying stages to make it to the main draw of the 2012 Champions League in South Africa, have received a major boost with the arrival of their five World Cup players here, yesterday.
Skipper Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo and Samuel Badree, all played their part as the West Indies defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the ICC World Cup T20 final on Sunday.
The team, minus the five, played a practice game against the Auckland Aces on Sunday but lost by eight wickets.
T&T will go into action tomorrow in their first match against Yorkshire at Centurion.
Weather conditions are not what they are accustomed to at home but it is not too cold, while the pitches are another story. The pitch at Centurion is known for being one of the quicker pitches in South Africa and also gives plenty of opportunity to batsmen, with the ball generally coming onto the bat. It has never been seen as a spinners paradise, which will play against T&T.
Manager of the team Omar Khan says that the loss to Auckland Aces will give the players an idea of what to expect in South Africa. “The guys did not win the game but more importantly they were able to go out there and get an idea of the conditions. We viewed this as more important than the result. Of course five of the top players were missing and we are hoping that their arrival here, brings that advantage to the team.
“They have just won the World Cup title and having five of them play for us is a tremendous boost, it will also lift the rest of the squad.”
Meanwhile, the T&T camp was greeted with the good news yesterday that Yorkshire’s best batsman Jonny Bairstow is out for the match while their best bowler, Tim Bresnan, is also out.
Bairstow played a key role in getting Yorkshire to the Champions League when he struck 68 off 45 balls in the Friends Life t20 semifinal against Sussex, while he is also the first-choice wicketkeeper. His place behind the stumps will go to Dan Hodgson, 22, after Andrew Hodd, who signed on loan during the season and then gained a permanent deal, was refused permission to play in the tournament.
“I can’t think of a better way to start my Twenty20 career than playing in the Champions League,” Hodgson said. “I always thought there might be a chance I’d get a game with Jonny being on England duty, but it does feel a bit surreal now it’s happened.”