ON the heels of being awarded his first-ever international retainer contract by Cricket West Indies (CWI), on Wednesday, spinner Akeal Hosein was also retained by reigning Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 champions Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) on Thursday.
In a statement issued by the TT franchise, Hosein, Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine and Colin Munro were among a talented pool of 13 players who were retained by the 2020 winners.
Hosein, 28, was selected to TKR in round ten of the 2019 CPL Draft and gradually worked his way into the squad’s starting 11 for the 2020 edition.
There, Hosein took ten wickets in seven matches and only conceded 5.55 runs per over; all of which contributed to TKR capturing a historic fourth CPL T20 title.
On Thursday, TKR announced Hosein’s continuity with the team for this year’s leg which bowls off in St Kitts and Nevis from August 28.
“It’s a great feeling to be retained, more so, to be at home to represent the TT franchise. We’re in some tough times in the country and all over the world so it’s always good to get the opportunity to go out there and be playing the game.
“My plan is to work twice as hard to compete, stay and also to be successful at that level. Not much is going to change, I’m just going to be working extra hard,” said the left-arm spinner.
TKR will be led once more by skipper Kieron Pollard – Wisden’s leading T20 cricketer in the world. They also re-signed TT batsmen Darren Bravo, Tion Webster and Jayden Seales. Spinner Khary Pierre and pacer Anderson Phillip were also retained by the defending champions.
The Knight Riders also welcome back international players Colin Munro (New Zealand), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe) and fast bowler Ali Khan (USA).
Additionally, after spending last season with the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, talented wicketkeeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin returns to the TKR set up. Ramdin was traded to TKR, on April 30, while the Patriots received three-time TKR title-winning skipper Dwayne Bravo in return.
TKR have four more spots to fill in their squad and these will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
According to team manager Collin Borde, their final selections must help the squad strike the right competitive balance.
“As always we look for the blend of youth and experience, and above all, a balanced squad that would give the selectors/captain, ample appropriate options to choose from as the situation arises. This year will be no different. We have our targets in sight,” said Borde.
Although Narine has had a topsy-turvy year on the international T20 circuit, he was appointed vice-captain of TKR. Borde believes Narine has the leadership skills to assist Pollard on their journey to another CPL crown.
“Sunil Narine in any squad will be an asset. The franchise has put a lot about the confidence in him. He has had a few injuries this season and unfortunately this happens in sport.
“He is made of very stern stuff and we know that his contributions both on and off the field are very valuable to us. He will be ready,” Borde added.
Before the start of the CPL, South Africa and Australia are tentatively scheduled to tour the Caribbean in two separate series against the West Indies.
According to Borde, quite a few of TKR’s players will be plying their trade in the coming international series and will use this tourney to put in the required training.
The rest of the players will be working locally with the TT Cricket Board. Borde also said that leading up to the tournament, TKR will provide programmes to facilitate all the work needed to ensure the players remain motivated.
“As the covid19 issues arise, we will be always guided by safety first. We are in the process of tailoring programmes to assist in that regard.
“Time flies so we are acutely aware of the season to come and for both the local as well as foreign players. The monitoring and planning has already begun.
“There is a camp date in mind and it is flexible as we have to work around the pandemic. Preparation has already begun in earnest,” Borde concluded.