ALTHOUGH the inaugural Chief Secretary’s Bago T10 Cricket Blast bowls off in front of empty stands, at the Cyd Gray Sporting Complex, in Roxborough, on Friday, the four competing teams are ready and raring to go.
This tournament serves as Tobago’s biggest sporting event since the global pandemic forced a four-month shut down of nationwide sporting activities and facilities since mid-March.
Young cricketers of the sister-isle have eagerly anticipated the resumption of sport and are ready to return to the pitch after a lengthy hiatus.
Speaking with Fort King George Gunners coach Brian Brown, on Thursday, he welcomed the first-time tourney and believes it can be used as a platform to motivate and inspire upcoming cricketers to pursue their athletic development.
He also expressed pleasure that the tournament would be broadcasted live on the Tobago Sports Live and Cricket360 Facebook pages. According to Brown, these elements serve as integral tools for additional publicity which would highlight the island’s cricketing talents.
Fort King George Gunners go up against Little Tobago Islanders in the opening fixture from 2 pm while Buccoo Divers meet Rainforest Rangers two hours later.
“Most of the guys are very eager to get back out there. It’s a positive step for sport on the island because it will be broadcasted. It’s a learning opportunity. As long as the games are being played and the young players are involved, it’s an opportunity for them to learn.
“They’re anxious and excited. T10 is a new thing for us because we have never played it at this level, magnitude and with this kind of hype and backing. We just can’t wait for tomorrow (Friday),” he stated.
Brown admitted the recent shut down of businesses and other key operations forced some of the island’s cricketers to prioritise their employment commitments as compared to participating in the competition.
“The covid19 situation would have affected some people differently since some must remain committed to their families, jobs and businesses. But the teams have been training every day and they just want to get out there and play cricket,” he added.
Speaking with Tobago Cricket Association president Kerwin John, on Thursday, he assured the tournament will be hosted within the required coronavirus guidelines from the Ministry of Health.
“We’re not allowing spectators. We have things set up at the gate before entry to ensure proper pre-sanitisation takes place prior. We have sanitizers for the players and anyone entering the facility, even in the stands. Anyone other than the players coming into the stands must wear their masks,” he said.
The teams feature Tobago players only. Jahron Alfred captains Buccoo, former TT Red Force player Navin Stewart leads Rainforest Rangers, West Indies Under-19 player Joshua James skippers Fort King George while Leron Lezama guides Little Tobago.
Tournament organisers Tobago House of Assembly even held a player draft for the youngsters on July 14 to build the excitement for the cricket prospects.
John said, “The players are very excited. Anticipation is really high from last week’s draft to now. The draft helped the players feel welcomed and brought a fresh look to the competition. The teams are out training every day and are hungry for cricket.”