VETERAN all-rounder Imran Khan, captain for TT Red Force's opening Regional Four-Day Tournament match against Windward Islands Volcanoes tomorrow, has described the team's training as "the best preparation we've had for the past few years."
Khan, 34, will skipper the team at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, against a Windward Islands team looking for redemption after an emphatic opening round loss by 125 runs to Guyana Jaguars.
Despite enjoying a good preparation ahead of the tournament, Khan said he was disappointed at the team's inability to train at the match venue. The team practised at the National Cricket Centre, Balmain, Couva yesterday and will continue training there today.
"Everyone is fit and ready to go out there for the first game. The team chemistry is there and preparation has been going good. Fitness-wise, I think we've been training very hard throughout the past few weeks and months and hopefully the hard work pays off come Thursday."
Khan did not hide his disappointment with his team's performance at the last edition when TT placed bottom in the standings.
"This year (last season) was so disappointing, finishing last. As I told the guys earlier today, 'The only direction we can go is up from here.' And yes, it's a pretty young team. You know, they are very eager and hungry for success so that's something positive."
The key for the team's success, he said, is in a consistent all-round game.
"The guys know that fielding was one of the biggest let-downs earlier this year with so many dropped catches during big games. I think that cost us big time, because we were at least second going into the sixth or seventh game, and after that a couple crucial (dropped) catches, we went to last place; it cost us a lot of games.
"I think this year, the focus is to be consistent batting-wise and consistent fielding-wise as well. I think for the past couple years, our bowling has been pretty good, but we can't get too complacent bowling-wise."
Khan added that while the Windward Islands are coming off a loss, their opponents are to be respected.
"Windwards is a very tricky team. They have consistent senior players like Devon Smith, (Shane) Shillingford and those guys in the set-up, so we're not going to take anyone for granted. Yes, they are coming off their first game with a loss and that could be a plus for us, you know.
"At the end of the day, it will be a total team effort from everybody, but I'd like to see the senior guys take responsibility by leading the youngsters. There is myself, Jason Mohammed, Kyle Hope, (Yannic) Cariah, (Amir) Jangoo and Bryan Charles, who have been with the guys for a couple years. If these guys take responsibility for themselves and for the younger guys to follow, I think we can show quality."
The tournament is scheduled to conclude on March 10. Following Windward Islands, TT Red Force's next opponent is the Leeward Islands.
Red Force Squad:
Imran Khan (Captain)
Yannic Cariah (Vice-Captain)
Joshua Da Silva
Daniel St. Clair
Coach: Kelvin Williams
Manager: Roland Sampath
Physio: Jason Pilgrim