Red Force coach David Furlonge believes a victory against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes will go a long way in Trinidad and Tobago's quest to end a 16-year West Indies Four-Day Championship title drought.
TT face the Leewards in Wednesday’s third round match at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex.
Furlonge believes his squad has the depth to go all the way and hoist the elusive regional crown.
TT (38.6 points) are second on the standings after two rounds, behind table-toppers and defending champions Barbados Pride (42 points).
With just three matches remaining – against third placed Leeward Islands, Barbados and Guyana Harpy Eagles – Furlonge wants three outright wins.
Also in round three, Guyana face Barbados at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain and Jamaica Scorpions meet Windward Islands Hurricanes at Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba. All matches start at 10am.
All remaining four-day matches will be played in Trinidad.
A victory against Leeward Islands, Furlonge said, would strengthen team confidence ahead of their clash with Barbados.
“It’s an important one. You want the momentum going into the game against Barbados. But it’s a short season with only five games, so we have to target to win as many games as possible if you want to have a chance to win the championship.
Since the competition was put on hold in February to facilitate the England’s tour of the West Indies, several domestic T10 and T20 tournaments were held in TT which gave the majority of Red Force players a chance to continue playing.
Having to transition back to the longer version of the game, Furlonge is not too worried.
“We have been playing plenty cricket here in Trinidad – club cricket, and we have had practice matches among the Red Force teams. The guys have been playing a lot of cricket, meeting regularly and discussing the next three rounds.
“We have played four-day practice matches in-between those games (domestic T10 and T20s). Players have been practising. We practised about five or six days in the last two weeks.
“I’ve been watching some of the players in the T20 and they’re playing proper cricket shots so I don’t think it’s a worry for them adjusting from the T20 to four-day coming up. And our fast bowlers (Jayden Seales, Anderson Phillip and Shannon Gabriel) are not playing in the competition so they are training and fresh,” he added.
Joining the Red Force for the second phase of matches are Akeal Hosein, Darren Bravo, Uthman Muhammad and Gabriel.
Furlonge said he is confident these additions will provide the needed support to bolster their attack. Jyd Goolie, Kirstan Kallicharan and Terrance Hinds were overlooked after the first two rounds of competition.
However, Seales and Phillip will leave the team for West Indies duty after next week’s match. They head to Netherlands and Pakistan for ODI tours. The pair will be replaced by Muhammad and Hinds.
“We hope that with Darren Bravo coming in the team that would stabilise the top four (batsmen). And Joshua Da Silva, with the confidence of the hundred in the Test match (against England in March).
“Also Akeal Hosein, who has been scoring runs regularly in Trinidad, so we can boost the batting, get the total that we’re looking for and to bowl out teams twice.
“Some of the senior players in our team have commented that Shannon’s pace is back. I think that will do well for the team, having a genuine fast bowler on top there,” he said.
RED FORCE SQUAD:
Imran Khan (captain), Keagan Simmons, Jeremy Solozano, Darren Bravo, Jason Mohammed, Joshua Da Silva, Akeal Hosein, Bryan Charles, Anderson Phillip, Jayden Seales, Shannon Gabriel, Yannic Cariah, Khary Pierre, Isaiah Rajah, Uthman Muhammad, David Furlonge (coach), Sebastian Edwards (manager), Clinton Jeremiah (trainer), Jason Pilgrim (physiotherapist).