T&T coach pleased with effort
PORT OF SPAIN - Trinidad and Tobago coach Kelvin Williams praised the work of his bowlers, and in particular "mystery" spinner Sunil Narine, after their 172-run win over Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) in their opening Regional Four-Day Tournament match, which ended on Sunday night at 3Ws Oval, Barbados.
Williams commended his players for their good all-round showing and noted that Man-of-the Match Narine, who had match figures of 13 wickets for 39 runs, could play a leading role in their drive for success this season.
"It was an excellent all-round performance and the guys were really up for it. Although we beat them last year, we wanted to get this team out of the way because of the kind of pressure they put on us over the years and I think we wanted to answer the critics with a good win and that is exactly what we did," said Williams.
"It was a fantastic win, it is a long time we have not dominated CCC like how we did in this match and that gave us the kind of start we needed to get our campaign up and running. We have not won this competition for a while now so this is a good start."
The match was a low-scoring one, with T&T's first innings total of 229 being the highest score in the match. But Williams praised that effort given the conditions which, to him, were not ideal.
"If you look at scores, they suggest the pitch was not that good," he said. "The conditions under lights...we needed better lighting. The pitch was up and down a bit. When we scored 229, I thought it was a damn good effort from the batters... Thirty wickets fell under the lights, that's just to tell you how poor it was."
That total was made possible due to Kieron Pollard's 60 late in the innings. His coach was impressed.
"Kieron showed maturity. People have him as a T20 player but Kieron Pollard is a good batsman. He showed he has the maturity. He batted at No.7, thank God we had him at the back."
Last year, Trinidad and Tobago were second after the round-robin competition and were semi-finalists. However, in the two seasons before that, T&T failed to make it into the top three.
The last time the national team won the four-day crown was in 2006. But Williams is hopeful victory can be achieved this year, even though they will lose Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons for their next match because of the Bangladesh Premier League.
However, he will still have Narine, whose Indian Premier League debut campaign does not begin until April.
Of the newest "star" in the side, Williams said: "Sunil just keeps putting in performance after performance. Since coming back from the Champions League (in India), he went to Guyana for the Super50 and was outstanding. He bowled well in the last Caribbean T20, but to come in and dominate in his first first-class game of the season was fantastic.
"It shows a lot about the bowler and I think the sky is the limit for him," Williams added.
The coach also believes that Narine has a big role to play in the rest of the tournament.
"Yes, I think he has a big part to play for us. He has that confidence and he has a reputation, because you have batsmen who are afraid to bat against him and batsmen being nervous around him. I expect him to play a big part in our drive for success this season," said Williams.
"Shannon (Gabriel) also looked good and he bowled with some fire. His line and length was perfect and he is developing well."
Williams also noted that pacer Ravi Rampaul should be fit for T&T's next match against Barbados from February 16-19 and that his inclusion should strengthen an already potent bowling attack.
T&T have a bye in round two, which starts on Friday.