As much as we refer to possible results on the basis of our previous performances, especially the most recent ones, the old saying that “a team or player is only as good as their last match” is applicable as T&T head into the Caribbean T20 tournament on Sunday.
Despite the hype which can be attached to some noteworthy displays of batting, bowling or fielding, the proven fact lies squarely upon the upcoming matches.
Unrealistic as some may wish to make assessments from yesterday’s display, the chances of an accurate prophesy seldom work in favour of consistency.
As all the Caribbean teams get set to battle their way to the top of the region’s T20 championships, the frontrunner to win the title appears to be T&T, because of their previous victories.
Very few of the fans will look further than the team of their fancy, regardless of whether the opponents have improved in recent times, or players have dropped short of their regular form.
The selection of the West Indian players from the region often will provide the guidelines on which teams gain supporters, especially if they travel to a World Cup, an IPL, BPL or any other.
It is for this same reason that Denesh Ramdhin and his squad, which consists some of the most popular names in T20 cricket, will appear to be almost unbeatable.
Clearly, the names of Kieron Pollard, Darren and Dwayne Bravo, William Perkins, Lendl Simmons, plus greenhorns Evin Lewis and Yannick Ottley should not have difficulty in scoring between eight and eleven runs per over at the Queen’s Park Oval against bowlers of whom they have become accustomed.
Which group of batsmen in the Caribbean teams can take the bowling of Narine, Rampaul, Samuel Badree, Kevon Cooper, Dwayne Bravo, and our new fast bowling find Shannon Gabriel, and put an unbeatable score on the board?
However, you and I know that the confidence which had been placed in some of these players has always brought the rewards by good bowling, despite a familiar, uncharacteristic, cavalier type of batsmanship which is void of any planning, whether it be reckless high risks shots at the inappropriate time or some bits of poor judgment when running between wickets.
I have to admit that very few batsmen have taken Badree, Rampaul and to a lesser extent, Narine to bits. Our bowlers will be the ones who will have to win these matches.
On viewing the names on the list of the other teams, it will be unwise to underestimate Guyana, who possesses a well balanced team.
Their batting may appear to be frail in numbers, but the presence of Chanderpaul, Deonarine, and Sarwan have all the ingredients to play out 20 overs with some margin of support from the rest.
Their three West Indian bowlers, skipper Permaul, Bishoo, and Deonarine at the Queen’s Park Oval can be treacherous and penetrative, especially against players who are not comfortable with playing good spin.
Jamaica may be short of their two stars Gayle and Samuels, a factor which I believe will be their biggest deterrent against getting big scores.
The recent return to form for Tino Best, when added to Ryan Hinds, Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Smith and Sulieman Benn, could well help the Bajans to bowl their opponents for small enough scores for their moderate batsmen to make.
Having said all that, is the bright picture of a T&T victory as emphatic as many of us believe?
Will leadership play a key role in this tournament? The answer, is clearly yes. Tamar Lambert has demonstrated his ability to lead his national teams on many occasions and could be a major factor in his team’s performances.
Advice from Sarwan and Chanders can bring some experience to Permaul, which will put them close to the winner’s row. Ramdhin will need to show us that he has the knowledge and experience to make sensible decisions and also lead by example.
We have seen the CCC produce brilliance from time to time, but inexperience may be their biggest challenge.
Spinners may well find the most success at the Oval in the first portion of the schedule, as the second venue will be nothing but a batting paradise.
My choice for victory is T&T, simply because of patriotism. Their home advantage should take the twin island state into the lead when travelling to St Lucia.
They need to be in the lead for the matches against Barbados and Windwards.
No one said that it will be easy, but only consistency will prevail.