RECENTLY appointed national selector Rajendra Mangalie has expressed unbridled optimism that the upcoming regional cricket season will be a watershed for the Red Force team.
The former TT attractive opening batsman strongly believes that the young crop of players coming through the ranks will develop into a winning unit under team coach Mervyn Dillon, and prove themselves as worthy title contenders.
Their first assignment is the 2019-2020 Cricket West Indies Colonial Medical Super50 Cup which gets under way on Wednesday, November 6 with TT in action the next day in the opening encounter of Group “B” against the Windward Volcanoes in a day match at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain.
The other teams in Group “B”, based in Trinidad, are Guyana Jaguars, West Indies Emerging Players and the USA. Matches will be played at both the Oval and at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.
Mangalie said that despite the fact that Red Force will be missing six top players who will be on duty with the West Indies team in India, he is convinced that those who will be called to fill the breech will rise to the occasion.
Those selected for the West Indies team to play in the One-Day Internationals and T20s against Afghanistan and India are Kieron Pollard who has been named captain, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Khary Pierre and Denesh Ramdin.
Mangalie is part of the national selection panel which is headed by chairman Tony Gray and also includes Mahadeo Bodoe and Keno Mason, all of whom he described as extremely knowledgeable in the game having represented and excelled for TT at the highest level.
“I have been having a look at the training squad at practice and has been talking with the coach and fellow selectors. I believe that the cricketers are taking their roles in the present set-up very seriously and are motivated to perform well,” said Mangalie.
He describes his national duty under Brian Lara as his greatest experience in the game which started as a schoolboy cricketer, at Couva Government Secondary, from Charlieville, and said he always harbored a desire to make a contribution to cricket after his playing days were over.
Mangalie said he leapt at the chance when approached by TTCB president Azim Bassarath to serve on the national senior panel, an opportunity he said he will work at tirelessly to assist his fellow selectors in having the best team represent the nation.
He said he admires the style of Gray, a former outstanding national and West Indies fast bowler who has a wealth of experience and listens to advice. He said Gray’s guidance in the panel’s deliberations maintains an objective and performance-based focus.
“Selectors have a challenging role as you can’t please everyone. But the bottom line is performance. Any player who provides the selectors with the criteria for being selected will be given the opportunity by the panel,” said Mangalie.
The successful businessman has also been named chairman of the TTCB’s Marketing and Sponsorship Committee, which also comprises Sudesh Jaggerssar (vice-chairman); Amral Mohammed, Reann Ramcharan, and Albert Ragbir.
And already the committee has been successful in securing sponsorship for a proposed Under-23 zonal competition, and for the revival of the North versus South Classic .
He said that his committee will focus on enlisting the help of the business community to demonstrate their corporate responsibility in the development of cricket and the young people of the nation.
“We know that finance is the key to all successful programs and for years the Cricket Board has been struggling to raise funds to ensure that our cricketers are nurtured and prepared for competition. We will be doing our best to ensure that its development program will not be interrupted because of a lack of funds,” said Mangalie.