Rampaul, Barath working towards West Indies return
Trinidad and Tobago players Ravi Rampaul and Adrian Barath, who were named in the 15-man squad for the Champions League T20, are hoping that a good showing in the competition will catalyse their return to the West Indies setup for the tour of New Zealand in December this year.
Rampaul has been out of action since last June when he injured his ankle on West Indies duty in the tri-nation series against Sri Lanka and India, and missed the subsequent Caribbean Premier League (CPL). His franchise, the Jamaica Tallawahs were crowned champions, but the pacer admitted he was he was looking forward to contributing to the success of his national outfit: T&T, as winners of the previous - and final- regional domestic T20 competition, the Caribbean T20, are the West Indies' entrants in this year's Champions League.
"It is always good to wear your national colours," Rampaul said. "We take pride in our T&T team, and hopefully when we go to the Champions League we can bring it home this time. Any tournament for T&T, I will want to do my best, and I have been putting in the work so that when the Champions League starts I am fit and ready.
"I have been working with the trainer Oba [Gulston] for a couple of weeks and I got out today and feel good, so with some match practice we will see how it goes from there," Rampaul said. "Things happen for a reason and I went back and looked at my performances and looked at ways I can improve my game. With everything there is always some good that will come out of it."
Having observed Jamaica's success in the CPL, Rampaul has identified a few areas to work on to help facilitate his return to international cricket.
"There were a lot of slower balls and everyone was talking about death bowling, and those are the areas I will be looking to improve on, more variation and death bowling," he said. "I hope these improvements, and a good Champions League, will push me back into West Indies contention."
Barath echoed Rampaul's sentiments as he believes T&T are hungry to prove themselves on the global stage. "It is always a privilege representing T&T. As a team and for myself, we will be looking to make use of the preparation games [in Guyana] and try and play as a team, and this should do us good for the tournament," Barath said. "We have a good team. We have a good combination of guys and as we all know T&T is a very strong team and we just [have] to play our roles as individuals and that should help us as a team."
Following a lean period with West Indies, Barath worked with Gordon Greenidge to help regain the promise he showed as a youngster. He endured an average CPL, finishing with 135 runs from 6 matches at an average of 22.50, but admitted he felt confident things were turning around.
"I will be looking to play my game, try and bat through the innings and try and get the team into good positions as much as possible," he said. "I think the tournament [CPL] was an okay tournament for me. I got some consistent scores. I played my part as opening batsmen, batting through the Powerplay, and doing the job for the team. I will be looking to do the same [for T&T] and hopefully make the New Zealand trip."
T&T are placed in Group B with Chennai Super Kings, Brisbane Heat, Titans and a qualifier, while Group A includes Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Lions, Perth Scorchers and the other qualifier. Otago Volts, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Faisalabad Wolves and Kandurata Maroons will contest the qualifiers scheduled to begin on September 17, with the top two teams entering the main draw starting September 21 in Jaipur.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here