HEALTH protocols have been amplified by the TT Red Force to safeguard their potential players ahead of the Regional Four-Day Tournament.
This comes after a few cricketers from the in-training 40-member contingent tested positive for covid19 following a recent practice match at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
The test results forced Red Force officials to postpone training and trials for a couple of days. However, national coach Richard Furlonge confirmed, on Thursday, that full training has resumed and those who returned positive tests are now virus-free and back with the bunch.
Training recommenced at the National Cricket Centre, in Couva, on Wednesday, continues on Friday, with a final session scheduled for Monday.
“Unfortunately, yes, we had some covid19 cases but we are over that now and moving forward. There were a few fellas who after the practice game in the Oval, we had a few cases.
“But they self-quarantined, and those who had covid19 have gotten a clean bill of health and are now back out to practice and training.
“We have enhanced and stricter protocol now. One of the protocols is that once you get covid19, we’re asking you to stay away for 21 days.
"We ask that once you portray any symptoms that you visit a doctor and before you return to practice you have to present a negative test.
“Even if it’s just the common cold, we need to see a negative test before you return to practice. Also, if you are positive, then you need to have two negative tests before returning to practice,” Furlonge said.
A four-day trial match is also carded to bowl off next Wednesday after which the national Regional Four-Day team will be selected. From there, those selected will play another practice match against those who weren’t as a final team prep ahead of the annual tournament.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) is aiming to start the four-day season in February.
Furlonge wants to ensure his team is up for the challenge since 2021 captain Darren Bravo and in-form pacer Jayden Seales are unavailable for the majority of the tournament owing to West Indies duty.
However, the national coach received the blessing of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) to welcome 11 new Under-19 players to the four-day training group. These youngsters were part of 13 nationals who participated in CWI’s Rising Stars U19 High Performance Camp in Antigua in August last year.
The remaining two Under-19 players – Shiva Sankar and Anderson Mahase – were selected to represent the region at the ICC U19 World Cup which bowls off in the Caribbean next Friday.
Additionally, a group of Under-23 players also joined the training bunch seeking national team selection for the upcoming four-day meet.
These inclusions, Furlonge said, would help bolster TT’s player pool ahead of the competition and tighten their selection base to stave off any unexpected circumstances such as players testing positive for covid19.
However, fitness remains key.
“Seventy-five per cent of our players have passed the necessary fitness tests. These tests come in different parts. We have one or two players now that still have to pass the cardio or yo-yo test.
“We would do another test on January 17 to ensure that everybody is at the level. But so far the fitness, despite the interruption, has been good.
“The senior guys are pretty fit like Jason Mohammed, Imran Khan, Denesh Ramdin and Lendl Simmons. They all passed the yo-yo test on November 3 and they all met the required standard of 40.
“But it’s a matter of players having to be continuously training to maintain that fitness going forward.
“It’s a thing where we can select the team today, and one day before we leave, someone gets covid19. Then we’d have to change the team and do contact tracing. So we have to tighten our players,” he added.
Furlonge said he has not yet discussed with officials who will captain the Red Force this time around. He hinted that they may even appoint an interim captain until Bravo returns from international duty.
The former Queen’s Park Cricket Club coach said he “must discuss (captaincy) with selectors and see who best we can come up with”.
He also lauded cricketers Khary Pierre, Bryan Charles, Keegan Simmons and Kirstan Kallicharan for playing commanding captaincy roles during recent practice matches. Furlonge credited the entire group’s commitment to national trials.
“With or without the four-day tournament, the players, which was something pleasing to see, have continued to show enthusiasm. They haven’t missed practice. They could have easily said there’s nothing going, especially non-contracted players, and not turn up. But we have a 95 per cent attendance rate at practice,” he added.