FORMER RED Force captain Rayad Emrit believes Trinidad and Tobago has a good chance of capturing the elusive West Indies Four-Day Championship title.
TT have not won the competition in 16 years and currently sit in second position on the 2022 standings with three rounds of matches to go.
The Red Force and Leeward Islands Hurricanes resume their quest when action bowls off at Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Diego Martin on Wednesday from 10 am. This is the first time since its official opening in 2019 that the facility will host first-class matches.
Emrit, who has 84 first-class appearances, is optimistic the team has the depth to go all the way.
“It’s very important for Red Force to start well against Leewards, either batting or bowling, and set the pace. They’re in a very good position and playing at home is always an advantage.
“I think they are in a very good place. They are one of the teams that would be fighting for the title. They are going to be contenders. They just need to continue where they left off from the break,” he said.
Red Force (38.6 points) are slightly ahead of third-placed Hurricanes (24.6 points) and the winners from this clash could shake up the overall standings heading into the final two rounds of competition.
TT won their first two matches against Jamaica Scorpions and Windward Islands Volcanoes while the Leewards opened their account with a loss against defending champions Barbados Pride (42 points) followed by a convincing innings and 57-run triumph over Guyana Harpy Eagles.
A win, for either team in this third round meeting, is crucial moving forward.
Additionally, TT have won this competition five times as compared to Leewards’ four. The last time the Red Force won it was back in the 2005-2006 season while Leewards’ last capture was in 1997-1998, shared with Guyana.
TT have been bolstered for the tournament’s second phase with the inclusion of West Indies players – left-handed batsman Darren Bravo, left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and pacer Shannon Gabriel.
They join a powerful TT line-up which also includes WI players Joshua Da Silva, Jason Mohammed and Anderson Phillip. Seales and Phillip however, leave the team camp after the Leewards match for WI duty in Netherlands and Pakistan.
Emrit thinks this combination can produce a winning formula.
“The team is strengthened by the likes of Darren Bravo and Joshua Da Silva in the set up. Akeal Hosein, who has been in some really good form in the shorter version of the game, he will add a big boost to the batting lineup, and with his bowling and fielding skills.
“I think (captain) Imran Khan has led the team very well thus far. He just has to continue doing what he’s doing. It’s will be great if this team can lift the trophy. It’s been a while we have held it. It’s a great title to win and hopefully they can get their hands on this trophy this time,” he added.
Meanwhile, Barbados also do battle against fourth-ranked Guyana (21.4 points) at Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair from the same time. Windward Islands and Jamaica also return to competition at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba from 10 am, also on Wednesday.
TT face Barbados in their fourth round match next Wednesday in Tarouba. This encounter is crucial and the result holds much weight in possibly deciding who will go top ahead of the final two rounds.
“Barbados however are not a walkover in this tournament with a lot of experienced players in their team. But, with that being said, I still think the Red Force has a good chance at the crown,” Emrit closed.
In a recent Cricket West Indies virtual press conference, Leeward Islands four-day coach Stuart Williams said he is hoping to pick up where they left off before the ten-week break. Like the Red Force, they are also intent on securing full points.
“The players are very thirsty (to play). Our last game (against Guyana), it’s all about momentum for us. I know we are coming off a lengthy break but the way we finished our last game, we‘re definitely looking forward to starting these last three rounds on a positive note. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead, and this is going be Trinidad, one game at a time,” he said.