TT Red Force coach Mervyn Dillon believes the selectors have a much welcomed headache ahead of the rest of the West Indies Four-Day Championships with the depth of players at their disposal.
Speaking after the draw with Jamaica Scorpions, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, he was excited not just for the veterans such as Jason Mohammed and Imran Khan – once they returned from injury – but also for the new blood who stepped up to the fore. Red Force made a whopping 460 for four with Jamaica responding with 278 and then holding out on the final day at 300 for eight. However, while his charges couldn’t kill off the game, Dillon was pleased with the performance of the fresh faces which meant the selectors would soon have a deep roster to fiddle with.
Joshua Da Silva and Yannic Cariah made unbeaten knocks of 113 and 100 respectively, hot on the heels of winning the Super50 crown with West Indies Emerging Players and the coach felt this augured well in terms of competition. “That’s where you talk about hard work paying off. Yannic and Joshua are possibly two of the hardest working guys in the team. They’re the guys always doing the little extra and once you put in the work, you tend to reap rewards,” Dillon said. He also had a glowing appraisal for Keagan Simmons’ debut in the Four-Day format, having glimpsed signs of a successful integration into the squad in the Super50.
Simmons made 89 and Dillon affirmed he is essential to the team’s future. “I was really impressed with what I saw from him. He plays the game as if he’s played it for a long time as if he belongs here and that is always a good thing for a coach. I am really happy and excited for this young man, he seems to have a really long future ahead of him,” Dillon continued. With Leeward Islands Volcanoes visiting on Thursday at the same venue, Dillon revealed Lendl Simmons and Nicholas Pooran also said they’d be willing to play once not on West Indies duty.
Dillon admitted he would have liked one familiar face back in already in the form of full-blown pacer, Ravi Rampaul. He felt the quickie would have helped finish off Jamaica and he could soon get his wish as Rampaul’s been training with the squad, calling him a “good fit.” He was also happy with his all-rounders such as Akeal Hosein and Bryan Charles, who impressed with seven and five wickets respectively. As for the senior players returning, he maintained Mohammed and Khan are “warriors” who’d be included once fit. Regarding this impending selection dilemma, he added, “For me, that is only going to keep guys motivated because you know what is on the bench.”
Dillon did admit there needs to be improvement, though, despite some “amazing batting.” He thinks the bowling has to be more consistent but more so, the fielding and catching have to be remedied. This problem has plagued the team for years now and it reared its ugly head again in the Super50. Dillon once more saw it appearing as Kyle Hope put down Jermaine Blackwood, on Sunday, in the gully and the Jamaican went on the rack up 78, changing the complexion of the match. “The guys tried. I was happy with the effort. For me, it’s just the few chances that went a-begging. (...) The catching is always a concern for me,” Dillon lamented. The coach, however, commended the ground staff for the pitch and believes once his players up their energy levels, they should be able to secure a win against the Leewards who were beaten by ten wickets hosting Guyana Jaguars.