Leewards not to be taken lightly

TT Red Force’s Yannic Cariah bats during a training session, at the National Cricket Centre, Counva, on Wednesday.  - Marvin Hamilton
TT Red Force’s Yannic Cariah bats during a training session, at the National Cricket Centre, Counva, on Wednesday. - Marvin Hamilton

TT Red Force coach, Mervyn Dillon is intent on maintaining his team’s competitive aggression when game two of the West Indies Four-Day Championships resumes, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, on Thursday, from 10am.

Following a drawn result filled with inspiring performances from the team’s youngsters against Jamaica Scorpions in their opening fixture, the Red Force continue its campaign against the Leeward Islands.

Speaking at the National Cricket Centre, Couva, during his team’s final training session ahead of the encounter, on Wednesday, Dillon believes the national unit can produce a winning display on home turf.

“Leeward Islands is not to be taken lightly as they a really good unit under coach (Stuart) Williams,” he said. “Our focus is on the things we control, which is doing the basics, supporting each other and continuing to push forward to playing a disciplined and consistent brand of cricket.”

The former TT and West Indian pacer has also opted to add firepower to his team’s artillery with the recent inclusion of veteran batsman, Jason Mohammed, and bowler, Kissoondath Mangram. Their welcomed involvement, however, sees the likes of Kyle Hope and Isaiah Rajah being left out of the squad.

Dillon was in high praise of the returning pair, “Since I started as coach, Jason has been scoring runs consistently and with him coming back from injury is great for me as a coach. As the captain said in our meeting, ‘We welcome back the king’. Magram has also been bowling really well and I expect him to fit right in. I love the confidence he has in himself and if you don’t take the ball away in the nets, he would bowl all day.”

The 45-year-old coach also held in high regard the leadership qualities displayed by skipper Darren Bravo in the opening matchup. Sharing similar sentiments on the recently crowned captain was Keagan Simmons, who was aided by the younger Bravo in his impressive knock of 89 on his four-day debut. “Batting with Jeremy (Solozano) and Darren helped my confidence (against Jamaica),” he explained. “Darren always shows leadership traits and abilities. I believe he is a great leader for the team. He has always been someone who I have learnt from, by just watching, talking and playing with him. He gives everyone that kind of confidence the team needs.”

Additionally, spinner Akeal Hosein remains optimistic the team can pull off another fine display, both with the bat and ball, against the Leeward Islands. Hosein bagged a stellar four wickets for three runs in both innings of the opening match and hopes to repeat his theatrics and spin webs in Thursday’s meeting.

“We are just looking to carry on from where we left off. The vibe in the camp is very positive and the team has been bonding very well. It’s just to keep progressing, making that extra step and getting those wins for TT,” he said.

Meanwhile, youngster Joshua Da Silva showed no mercy on the opening day, smashing an unbeaten 113 partnered by Yannic Cariah’s centurion (100n.o) knock. Da Silva is motivated to maintain his batting momentum and become a key asset to the TT Red Force as the tourney progresses.

“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, keep the basics going and do the best for my team. Everyone is gelling well. We have an excellent skipper with a lot of experience that’s definitely helping each and every one of us to go out there and feel comfortable. The plan is to have another good performance with the bat so I hope I can get that done,” he concluded.


"Leewards not to be taken lightly"

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