PRESENTATION COLLEGE San Fernando cricket team have come a long way from playing second fiddle in the school’s sporting interests to becoming a mainstay on the grounds of one of South Trinidad’s most prestigious schools.
Pres cricket team, during the 2019 season, won seven titles including the National Championship, for the first time in 26 years, and they have secured a spot in the Secondary Schools Cricket League Premiership Division.
We sat down with the Presentation College coach Rydell Ramsaran, team and TT Under-16 captain Tariq Mohammed, team manager Carlyle Jalim and the school’s vice-principal, Kenny Mootoosingh, to talk about the team’s 2019 performances and their plans for the 2020 Premiership season.
Here is Part One of the interview...
NEWSDAY: What were the goals heading into the cricket season? Did you have any expectations for the teams heading into the season?
RYDELL RAMSARAN (RR): We had some major goals. The primary goal was getting into the Premiership tournament. So winning the Championship tournament and getting into the Premiership tournament. Thereafter, we wanted to be National Championship winners. For the Under-16 (category) we had the goal of being the National Under-16 champions also. For the Under-14, my personal goal was to get them to the quarter-final stage. Now I felt it was a little bit of underachievement at the Under-14 level but that was the primary goals at the beginning of the tournament.
NEWSDAY: What would you say were the strengths and weaknesses of each team, going into the season?
RR: Our strength of the team was that we had a combination of good players both batting and bowling. We had guys who could bowl in the correct areas and batsmen who were able to bat for long periods. We had our captain, Tariq (Mohammed) who is a tremendous player, so we had a good captain and good batsmen in light of Tariq. For our Under-16 level too, those guys were players who primarily were on the Championship team. Most of the guys were playing Championship cricket and would have represented the school at the Under-16 level and that’s the reason we thought we could’ve won the National title, and we did that. At the Under-14 level, we just had a couple of guys, about four or five players who are recognised cricketers. The rest of the players were guys who were interested and had to work with them and get them playing tournaments. Some of them were probably playing for the first time. We had two fellas who, in three months time we made them cricketers and they played in that tournament, hence the reason we had less objective of winning that tournament.
NEWSDAY: Now before we move on I just wanted to go over the list of accomplishments that Pres had this year. South Zone Under-14 Champions, South Zone Under-16 Champions, National Under-16 Champions, Flow T10 South Champions, Flow T10 National Champions, South Championship, and you won the National Championship, the first time Pres won the National tournament in 26 years, along with promotion to the Premiership. So after listing out all these accomplishments, how difficult was it managing and developing the different teams and achieving the same result?
RR: Well it was a learning process as we went long also. It was also a difficult task but understanding the various coaching styles and using it in different situations, I think that was the key thing. Understanding when you needed to be authoritative, when you needed to allow them to play their game. So those coaching styles and bringing the best out of the players. This year with the Premiership I think that’s what I succeeded to do to make them confident and make them play cricket in their own personal style. Jovial players could go out and enjoy their cricket. Serious minded players come and bat seriously. Those were some of the things that were challenging.
NEWSDAY: So, from the Under-14 to the Championship level, who would you say were the most influential players at each level? They don’t have to be the most important player. It could be a player that you look to maybe rally the team or maybe just to ease the pressure off of the team when situations looking difficult or to just raise the morale of the team?
RR: Well I think this is a good question because we have a lot of players did that role. I think Tariq too wasn’t selfish in the sense that he too tried to build players because he recognised that, he couldn’t do it on his own and that’s what we did this year. So we had Sanjay Jawahir that we use as that guy who would’ve talked to the boys like, “Fellas we hadda come out to train.” So Sanjay maybe at Premiership level. In the Under-16 level, I think Tariq together with the captain, Rodney (Beharry), were the guys on that team, and then we had Nickyle Jalim in the Under-14 level. So those were the players that the team would rally around.
NEWSDAY: So we know that Pres is a big school when it comes to sports. The support is always there, especially for football. How has the support for the school been influential with respect to the cricket season as a whole? Maybe Tariq would have a better gauge of this.
TARIQ MOHAMMED (TM): Well since I started coming to Pres, cricket wasn’t really a big sport. The school didn’t really take it on. It was mostly about the football, but you know as soon as the team started to win, they started to see our goals and see how big we won our games by and they realised that cricket was starting to get serious in the school and they started to support us, especially the Sixth Formers with Sanjay, Vanir (Maharaj) and Shem (Acevero) and those guys, in Form Six. Their friends came out to games, and even when we had national trials, their friends are always supporting us. So I think it’s them, realizing that we were serious about what we were doing and we had a goal and they supported us because of that.