Fairytale run exemplifies spirit of the Caribbean

FULL OF ENERGY: Trinidad & Tobago’s fairytale run into the final of Champions Lea-gue T20 has shown that there is no dearth of talent in the West Indian islands. PTI

During the last fortnight, Trinidad and Tobago have shown what the cricketing world has been missing, a vibrant West Indian side. Ever since Australia knocked them off the top branch in 1995, Windies plummeted to a seemingly endless fall, depriving fans of a special brand of cricket.

Dispute between players and board, lack of funds, Stanford fiasco and threat of factionalism, West Indies cricket has gone through multiple agonies in the last two decades or so. But the performance of Trinidad in the Champions League Twenty20 provides the belief that West Indian cricket might regain its glory days sometime in the future.

“This performance has put our cricket back on the horizon. This has shown we have the talent and consistency. It is just going to ensure we grow as a cricketing nation, not just T&T but the whole of the West Indies,” T&T skipper Daren Ganga said.

Let’s take a look at Trinidad’s showing in the tournament. Agreed, they have some talented youngsters in their line-up like Bravo brothers, Kieron Pollard, Adrian Barath and William Perkins. But the stand-out feature of their splendid run was team unity and the inspired leadership of Ganga.

The players’ camaraderie on and off the field was a massive factor for the Trinidadians that also revealed the benefits of playing together for a longer time, unlike the fancied Indian Premier League teams. One of their star players in the tournament, Pollard, stressed on the harmony factor.

“There is this friendship among the team members that makes our side more like a family. We support each other in times of crisis, and more importantly we appreciate each other’s contributions on and off the field,” Pollard said.

Even Justin Langer, the Somerset captain, agreed that unity was a major mobilising force for the Trinidadians. “Look, they don’t have any big names. But right from skipper Ganga to the youngest player in the team speak in the same tone. That reflects the unity in their ranks, and it is tough to beat a team like that is so cohesive,” Langer noted.
The former Australian opener was spot-on when he mentioned the absence of big names in T&T ranks. Unlike New South Wales or Royal Challengers Bangalore, Trinidad do not have the luxury of multitude of experienced names, but the lack of big players never seemed to hinder them.

Most of the Trinidadians, except Ganga and Dwayne Bravo, have little or no experience at the international stage, making them one of the youngest sides in the competition. Ganga’s leadership skills have played a huge role in galvanising a bunch of youngsters into a team brimming with confidence and fearlessness.

“At the end of the day, we are quite aware as to what we want to accomplish as a team. We sit down and discuss the plan we set for ourselves. All the guys commit themselves. In this tournament, things have gone well. It’s very, very important that we remain level-headed which we have been. The guys have been enjoying our cricket rather than putting themselves under pressure on a big occasion,” Ganga said.

They might have played according to a well-drafted plan in the tournament, but there was this unpredictability surrounding the team. Much before the tournament began, Trinidad were dismissed as one of the also-rans along with Otago Volts and Diamond Eagles.

That time away from glare helped them immensely, and by the time the opponents realised their mistake, Trinidad had already taken huge strides. Ganga acknowledged that.

“It might have played a part. I know many people did not give us much chance in the tournament, and it was all about living up to our own expectations and the standards we kept for ourselves,” he said.

Cape Cobras skipper Andrew Puttick too admitted to Trinidad’s ability to fire without any obvious warnings after his side lost to the West Indians in the semifinals on Thursday. “Trinidad has that X factor. They play a very different brand of cricket and it is very difficult to play against them,” Puttick said.

Their superlative performance, though missing the title might harrow them for a while, will prompt many IPL franchises to avail the services of Trinidadians. “This tournament has exposed our talent. I know a lot of IPL franchises have been speaking to our players. A lot of guys are going to take this experience and hopefully take this to further their careers,” Ganga said.

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