T&T Red Force coach Mervyn Dillon says he wants to put the so-called impasse between himself and wicket-keeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin behind but remains firm that he has no grudge against the player and made no attempts to kick him off the team either.
Dillon made the comment to host Andre E Baptiste on the Isports programme on i95.5FM minutes before the Red Force departed for the next regional four-day match in St Kitts.
The issue has become a hot topic within the cricket fraternity after Ramdin accused Dillon and the selection panel chaired by Anthony Gray of not wanting him on the team and disrespecting senior players, after he was dropped from the squad for the upcoming match against the Leeward Islands. Ramdin claimed he was being victimised now for a decision he made last season in a game against the Leeward Islands.
Speaking on the radio programme, however, Dillon, who had previously refused to deal directly with some of the issues raised by Ramdin, said,
“These things are internal matters, I work for an organisation and we really do not discuss these policies in public but seeing that Mr Ramdin expressed his displeasure in terms of the decisions, I am a professional, the incident happen.
“I remember Lendl Simmons was in the team, we were sitting together, we were kind of talking about the game going forward with the final hour and when Mr Ramdin declared, Simmons looked at me and his comments was WTF. I suppose you know what that means and it tells you the story and as I said I do not want to defend it ... But in terms of as far as I am concerned, the blatant lies that Mr Ramdin is trying to use to justify or not justify him not being selected.
“But it is somebody that I have maximum respect for, the incident happened and I can say this and I hope Mr (Azim) Bassarath does not reprimand me, but yes I was disappointed because the team was still looking to win the game, but he decided on his own without any consultation and we were ahead.
“But yes I am a professional and I have moved on from that and given Mr Ramdin all the due respect since he has been back in the team when he started coming back around in the training.”
Dillon also denied he was disrespecting senior players, drawing reference to leaving out Ravi Rampaul over his availability due to passport issues and injuries.
“He (Ramdin) used that as some reason why I don’t like him or have something against him. My history as coach is very well labelled with encouraging senior players since I have started …. so the idea again that I do not want senior players on the team is another blatant lie,” Dillon told the host.
As to any meeting with Ramdin, a defiant Dillon said, “When you say one on one, we have had conversations and if Denesh wanted to speak to me, he would have spoke to me and not to you and every other media outlet … so if it is that he spoke to me and was still unhappy I could understand. If he felt slighted in anyway, people are entitled to their opinion, I would love to hear what his contract says about that, in the way he went about it, and this is the experience he is talking about, it was not very mature in terms of how he went about it, so it is something that I cannot even defend because it is laughable.”
He noted, however, that Ramdin said he wanted to play on the team as a batsman to give a young keeper a chance. However, he said the team management were at odds with this.
“When we looked at the balance of the team, we consider Denesh to be one of the better wicketkeepers in the country and around the region. I am talking about his glove work but as I said there are five selectors and the selectors decided they wanted to see something different, but again this is something I am not supposed to say, but the idea was for him to play some cricket. He has not been training, he hardly came to sessions.”
Dillon also drew reference to Ramdin’s current fitness levels and form.
“We did quite a bit of physical work going into the season. I am not sure what his figures are but I am certain they were not great in terms of attendance. I remember asking for him and I thought he was out of the country but I was told he was playing cricket somewhere in south, so again the game is bigger than all of us, no one person is the game or is Trinidad and Tobago cricket,” Dillon declared.
As to Ramdin’s claim that the current team spirit and atmosphere were demoralising, Dillon said, “Again Andre, laughable, laughable …that is the furthest thing from the truth. Jason Mohammed spoke even after we got that thrashing in Barbados, he was two people away from Mr Ramdin, and he spoke to the youngsters directly and told them how much they should enjoy this dressing room, because it is not what it is normally like, so again laughable.”
He added, “I am sure the players would have heard the drama but they know what I am about when it comes to this national team, so I am really not worried because I have always stressed that none of us is bigger than the game, none of us bigger than Trinidad and Tobago cricket, so whether I am here or not, the cricket will play so it is just for us to continue to represent the country as a unit.”
Asked if he did not feel he could lose his job over the spat, Dillon said, “I have been around long enough. Like I said, I have no reason to think so, but again … I think I heard the president, say the rift, there is a concern over the rift in the team but there is no rift in the team, so the idea that there is a rift is an unfortunate comment. I have no reason to think …I have not spoken to the president or the CEO Mr Ramkissoon since the incident.”
Going forward, Dillon assured the public that although the Red Force currently lies in fifth position in the regional competition, they are going all out to improve over the next five matches.