THE NORTH/SOUTH cricket classics for Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15 players will be used as a launching pad in an aggressive campaign to reclaim regional titles later this year in the respective age groups.
This was made abundantly clear on Tuesday when the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board launched the 2016 edition of the eagerly awaited three-day 50-Overs a team fiesta which for the second straight year will by sponsored by Vasha Foods Limited of Freeport, central Trinidad.
Present at a media conference to announce details of the classics at the National Cricket Centre at Balmain in Couva were first vice-president of the TTCB Dr Allen Sammy, Chief Executive Officer SurujRagoonath, and Cricket Operations Manager DudnathRamkessoon.
Ragoonath, a former West Indies and national opening batsman, who still plays the game competitively, said that the three matches on June 3, 4, and 5 at the NCC Ground will be day-night affairs and will feature the best young cricket talent currently available to represent Trinidad and Tobago on the regional stage.
In expressing the TTCB’s appreciation to Vasha Foods for their generous sponsorship, Ragoonath said that the North/South Classics usually brings out the best in the cricketers and will serve as the final trial before the national squads are picked for the three regional tournaments.
“The national selectors will be looking at the players with a critical eye in an intense competitive environment especially in the 50-Overs format with an eye also on the ICC World Cup tournament in two years,” said Ragoonath.
He said the Under-15s will get the ball rolling on Friday, June 3; the Under-15s will be up next on Saturday, June 4; with the Under-19s on show on Sunday, June 5.
Trinidad and Tobago will host the regional Under-17 tournament from July 8 to 18, and will be looking to go one step further after finishing runners-up last year, and equate the accomplishment of 2013 when they captured the top prize.
The regional Under-15 competition will be held in Grenada from July 24 to August 4, which the local side ruled supreme in 2010 and 2013, but were set back in the last two years by inclement weather when the tournament was staged in Guyana and Jamaica respectively.
The Under-19s will take centre stage at the regional level in St Vincent and the Grenadines from July 24 to August 20. In the competition last year staged in Jamaica, the Trinidad and Tobago boys placed third.
Ragoonath urged cricket fans to turn up in their large numbers at the NCC next weekend and support the young stars in action as admittance to the venue is free with all matches timed to start at 2 pm.
Last year North made a historic clean sweep of the three classics,and will be depending heavily on the East Zone representatives in the squad to repeatin 2016 after capturing all three TTCB inter-zone age-group titles so far this year.
West Indies ICC World Under-19 Championship winner KirstanKallicharan has been named captain of the North Under-19 and Under-17 squads, while Leonardo Julien will skipper the Under-15s.
Tariq Mohammed is at the helm of the South Under-15s, while Cephas Cooper will lead the Under-17s, and SaibaBatoosingh will wear the captain’s armband of the Under-19s.
NORTH: KirstanKallicharan (Captain), Keagan Simmons, Nathaniel McDavid, Jordan Warner, Brandon Maharaj, Sachin Seecharan, Joshua De Silva, Joey Samuel, Jean-Paul Rocke, Jonathan Bootan, Joshua James, Kristoff Lewis, Jerome Gibbs
SOUTH: SaibaBatoosingh (Captain), Adrian Paharry, Dejourn Charles, ShatrughanRambaran, Negus Smith, Cephas Cooper, EmiloGopaul, Bryan Boodram, Daniel Williams, JalanieSeales, Jabarie Mills, Shaaron Lewis, Ronnie Goddard
SOUTH: Cephas Cooper (Captain), Christian Thurton, Matthew Patrick, Brandon Ali, Darius Gopaul, Rohan Singh, Jayden Seales, Jarrod Samaroo, Brandon Singh, Kyle Madoo, Fiaz John, Justyn Gangoo, AvinashMahabirsingh, Amit Gopaul
NORTH: KirstanKalicharran (Captain), Gereeb Lewis, Michael Ambard, NavinBedassie, Joshua James, Leonardo Francis, Nathaniel McDavid, Leonardo Julien, Shaundel Emmons, Te-Shaun Allen, Ronaldo Forester, Sameer Ali, TeronJadoo, RickashBoodram
NORTH: Leonardo Julien (Captain), Samir Ali, RivaldoRamlogan, Geovanni Gajadar, Aryan Sammy, Mikal James, Orlando James, Sion Hackett, ChadeonRaymona, Andre Seetaram, Leon Bassano, Andrew Rambaran, Anderson Mahase
SOUTH: Tariq Mohammed (Captain), Antonio Gomez, Kyle Roopchand, Darren Samlal, Vanir Maharaj, Jayden Seales,Rahul Pitiram, Shiva Sankar, David Arjoon, Nicholas Ali, AmritMaharaj, Brandon Dookieran, KeironRampersad
“At last”! Was the refrain from most of the members of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s football team when they arrived at their base in coastal city of Qinhuangdao on Monday for a friendly international versus China this coming Friday. Some of the weariness resulting from the over 24-hour commute from Uruguay dissipated though when the Soca Warriors settled into the luxurious Shangri-la Hotel on China’s north-eastern coast in the Hebei province.
“The accommodations are great but to get here was difficult, we will have to work on that part. Barring that, we will have a comfortable environment as we recover ahead of our game” according to Yohance Marshall.
“We faced some top opposition on this tour and that will continue on the final leg as we will match up against one of the rising powers in world football on their home turf,” added the warriors defender.
China is at 81st on the FIFA rankings while T&T is above at 53rd but that interesting statistic is not fooling anyone in came as the warriors are fully aware of the task ahead. That task is victory versus the host to close off a tour which so far has reaped two losses 4-0 versus Peru and 3-1 in Uruguay. The quest seems even more daunting if you consider the loss of personnel heading into China.
Coach Stephen Hart will be without captain Khaleem Hyland and the dangerous Levi Garcia as both return to their clubs to fulfill contractual duties. This coupled with the loss of outstanding W Connection defender Tristan Hodge could make for an interesting line-up in Qinhuangdao on Friday night. Hodge sustained a head injury during the match versus Uruguay and returned to Trinidad on the advice of doctors although tests showed no major concerns.
The team also lost Technical Committee Member Dr. Alvin Henderson whose contribution on the tour was immense according to coach Hart. Henderson sustain an injury in Uruguay while rushing to lend assistance to the medical team during the Hodge incident. The former Trinidad and Tobago striker also served as Head of delegation on the tour which is sponsored by Shanghai Construction Group (Caribbean), a position which will be taken up by TTFA Vice President Ewing Davis on his arrival on Wednesday.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men’s team will complete their final bit of preparations on Thursday ahead of their international friendly with China at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center in Qinhuangdao at 7:30am TT time on Friday.
The team has settled in since their arrival from Montevideo earlier this week and the squad will be looking to end their slate of matches on a positive note against the hosts at the venue which was used to host football matches at the 2008 Olympic Games. It has a capacity of 33,572.
Local fans will be able to view the match live on Flow Sports Channel 95 from the 7:30am kick off.
Members of the team had a bit of time away from the rigors of training on Wednesday as they paid a visit to the world famous landmark, The Great Wall of China where they had the opportunity to interact with Chinese nationals and fans of the game as well as pose for photos. The Great Wall was constructed along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
“It was a great opportunity to take the players away from the training field a bit and get them out a bit at what is a great historical site,” head coach Stephen Hart told TTFA Media.
“It’s been a long tour but of course the main focus is preparing for the game on Friday. It’s going to be another challenging engagement for us but a great opportunity to test ourselves in these sort of conditions and against a team that is on the up,” Hart said.
“Generally the mood is quite good in the camp. The players are still very eager to go into the match and give a good account. I’ve gotten a lot from the tour so far in terms of what I had been looking for from players and certain situations that we’ve faced which is in line for our readiness for later down the road as well,” Hart added.
The tour which is sponsored by the Shanghai Construction Group Caribbean Limited, has also included two other friendlies with Peru and Uruguay which T&T lost 4-0 and 3-1 respectively.