THE inaugural Namalco/TT Cricket Board (TTCB) Under-23 Cup will serve as the final trial match for players hoping to catch the eyes of national selectors for the upcoming Cricket West Indies Regional 4-Day Tournament.
This was revealed by president of the local cricket fraternity, Azim Bassarath, during the launch of the historic 50-over competition at the Alloy Lequay Administrative Centre in Couva yesterday. The Under-23 Cup is geared towards providing a transitional pathway for young players intent on becoming eligible for national team selection, and by extension, a West Indies team call-up.
According to Bassarath, the first-time tourney, “…has occupied a unique place in the development plan of the TTCB, on the threshold of national senior team selection which normally opens the door to address the regional selectors, which many have grasped to earn the maroon cap of the West Indies.”
The developmental tournament bowls off on December 5 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA), Tarouba, and at the National Cricket Centre (NCC), Couva, from 2pm and will feature four teams in action. North Masqueraders open their account against Central Flamingoes at the BLCA while East/Tobago Leatherbacks face South Pavers at NCC.
Rounds two and three bowl off on December 8 and 11 at both locations respectively while the final will be contested at BLCA on December 14. All matches are day/night and commence from 2pm.
Bassarath also credited the board’s Marketing and Sponsorship Committee chairman, Rajendra Mangalie, who played a pivotal role in securing the sponsorship of Namalco for the Under-23 Cup. The TTCB head remains optimistic the relationship between both entities can span beyond this tournament and further into cricket development over the coming years.
“It is envisaged that we can land a long-term sponsorship agreement for at least three years to establish this window of opportunity for the Under-23s who deserve to have a stage for themselves to press their claim for national selection. We are hopeful that their name will become synonymous with the stars who we expect to emerge from the tournament,” added Bassarath.
In Mangalie’s short address, he expressed delight to have secured assistance via the prolific south contracting firm. However, the TTCB member admitted corporate TT is still feeling the squeeze of the current global economic downfall.
“To say that it is a historic undertaking is an understatement as this new opportunity for our young cricketers comes at a time when the Cricket Board is continuing to face extreme financial challenges. There is no doubt that at the Under-19 level, those who are selected on the national team or who are on the fringe of being called up, represent the cream of the crop who are being looked upon as future stars at the national and regional level,” he stated.