Head coach of the Red Force, Kelvin Williams, believes the new generation of national cricketers need to step up and take responsibility of the upcoming Regional 4-Day Championship. The coach is urging his players them to grab the reins and improve exponentially from last year's disappointing campaign where they finished bottom of the table. Although a youthful squad was picked, he said inexperience will not be an excuse as a lot of them played the majority of last year's season
"This tournament is the second time around for them and last year they were inexperienced. But the selectors were quite good to them, giving them a long run for the entire season. I'm waiting to see their response this year," he said.
He singled out wicketkeeper/batsman Amir Jangoo as one to keep an eye on, after the 21-year-old finished with 499 runs last year behind team leader, Denesh Ramdin (790). But this edition, he wants able support from the likes of Jeremy Solozano and new kid on the block, Queen's Park Cricket Club's standout 'keeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva, to help shape the future of the squad.
Williams believes that with experienced players like interim skipper Imran Khan and West Indies international, Jason Mohammed, the right balance can be established. He also indicated that with Ramdin out for their first match hosting the Windward Island Volcanoes due to "West Indies commitments," whenever he's available as the full-time skipper, the youngsters have another seasoned veteran to act as mentor.
"It's now up to them. I could only prepare them so much, but I expect them to perform better than they did last season. I hope players like Joshua are ready and willing to take responsibility when given the chance and cement their position," he added.
The veteran coach placed full faith in his team's batting, pointing out they were well on course at the halfway stage last year, ranking second after five rounds. They lost the plot in the latter half of the season, compounded by a comprehensive thrashing away to the Windwards, by an innings in Grenada. "I'm waiting see lots of runs on the board. Our batting usually clicks and it's always a problem for the opposition so we just have to tweak that to maintain consistency. Our bowling usually clicks too but the main issue we have to work on is our fitness," he continued.
Williams noted that after five matches last season, he could tell his team's fitness level wasn't up to scratch, evidenced by over 50 dropped catches in the tournament. He said fitness would obviously also affect their batting and bowling, so it's a key aspect the squad will be working on, especially as they also need to be mentally fit for the long season ahead.
As for the opening clash at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba on December 13, Williams said the visitors would have already played one game against the current champs, Guyana (starting tomorrow), so they would have shaken off any pitch rust. However, he backed his team to be match-ready and repeat the home win last season when they beat the Volcanoes by 10 wickets.
SQUAD – Imran Khan (captain), Yannic Cariah (vice-captain), Kyle Hope, Jeremy Solozano, Amir Jangoo, Jason Mohammed, Joshua Da Silva, Tion Webster, Daniel St. Clair, Bryan Charles, Odean Smith, Anderson Phillip, Ricky Jaipaul.