Champions League Twenty20 2009

Trinidad unity is a lesson for Caribbean - Ganga

Andrew Miller

October 20, 2009

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Click here to listen to the full audio interview with Daren Ganga


Trinidad's Daren Ganga hoists his country's flag, Antigua, January 25, 2008
Daren Ganga believes national pride has sustained his team's Champions League challenge © Stanford 20/20
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Daren Ganga, the captain of the Trinidad & Tobago side that has remained unbeaten throughout an impressive Champions League campaign, believes that the unity and team spirit shown by his island nation must serve as a warning to the warring factions within West Indies cricket. Unless the players and administrators can resolve their differences, Ganga believes it is "inevitable" that the region's individual countries will seek to go it alone in the future.

Ganga, who stood in as West Indies captain on their tour of England in 2007 only to be dumped from the squad before the end of the summer, has encountered at first-hand the politics and factionalism that mar the region's cricket at international level. But such concerns could not be further from the thoughts of the band of brothers who have progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League with a succession of never-say-die performances.

"The passion and the efforts that the guys have shown on the field of play have got us through to the semi-finals," Ganga told Cricinfo's Switch Hit podcast. "A lot of people never really expected us to go so far in the competition, but if you look at the framework of our cricket and of our club, and of all the other teams that have competed, one thing going for us is our national pride and patriotism.

"That is a hallmark of this team, being able to separate themselves, and realise they are not just representing the 11 players on the field or the 20 guys that are travelling, but all the rest of the people back in Trinidad, and by extension the wider Caribbean."

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Trinidadian cricket was synonymous with one Brian Charles Lara, arguably the greatest batsman of all time, but a man to whom a team ethos did not come naturally. In recent years, however, Trinidad have swept the board domestically, across three formats, and they also trounced Middlesex in last year's Stanford Super Series in Antigua. With a pool of talented players such as Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, the Bravo brothers and Ravi Rampaul, the days of relying on a single star performer are long gone.

"In the years gone by, we've created an environment where competition is healthy," said Ganga. "We have guys on the side who want to be part of the action, and when they get their opportunity they come to the fore and deliver. That is the best position to be in, and as captain of the team I am very happy with the way things have gone. We have not had a smooth run [through this competition], there have been challenges along the way, but you have to make the right decisions."

Making the right decisions is a knack that the administrators of West Indies cricket seem to have mislaid long ago, but Ganga believes that, at a time when the regional side has been crippled by pay disputes and strike action, there are valuable lessons to be learnt in the cohesion shown by his Trinidad squad.

"There are a whole lot of different philosophies and schools of thought about our team compared to the current West Indies team," he said. "But ask any champion team, and they'll say that having the right chemistry - a togetherness and a team spirit - is essential for any sort of success. If you have a situation where everything is surrounding one or two individuals, you never get the sort of output that you want as a team, and that is one of the things we inculcate as a team.

"No one individual is bigger than the team, and to be successful it's not going to take the efforts of two or three individuals, it's going to take the efforts of all 15 guys here, plus our technical staff," he added. "That's been ingrained, and all the guys understand that this is the approach that will bring us success."


Kieron Pollard lets out a roar after winning the game with his 18-ball 54, New South Wales v Trinidad & Tobago, Champions League Twenty20, League A, Hyderabad, October 16, 2009
Kieron Pollard produced a sensational innings to defeat New South Wales © Global Cricket Ventures-BCCI
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From Dwayne Bravo's nerveless final over against Deccan Chargers, to Pollard's sensational 18-ball fifty against New South Wales, Trinidad's players have come up with performances that would have graced any international fixture. Which begs the question, would the island be able to hold its own as a bona fide full-member country? Ganga has no wish to incite a revolution, but he is nevertheless realistic about the state of the game within the region.

"West Indies cricket has a great legacy," he said, "and there's a great amount of pride and respect for it, because of what our great teams have accomplished in decades gone by. I am not one to jump on a bandwagon and say Trinidad & Tobago should go on its own, but there has to be some involvement on the part of all stakeholders to protect West Indies cricket. It has to be invested in, in the right manner, and some firm decisions need to be taken about moving our cricket forward.

"And those are issues that need to be addressed now," he added, "because I tell you, if that doesn't happen, it is inevitable that countries may go separately. That is a fact because West Indies cricket cannot continue to have the turmoil that it is in right now. I think it's very important for that to be seen. Looking down the road, if decisions are not made sooner than later, that may be the only direction that territorial boards have left to take."

Ganga, however, was careful not to get carried away by a version of the game that has not won the approval of all cricket-lovers. "A lot of people don't have a lot of respect for Twenty20 cricket and they are right in their approach to some extent," he said. "If you are looking at a nation competing, it's not just about assessing the performance from a Twenty20 perspective. A lot of countries in the world have a bigger population than the Caribbean, and more finances, and still they struggle at Test cricket. I'm not one to advocate going on your own. It's important to set things in perspective, to look exactly at where our cricket is at this time, and what needs to be done to start turning things around."

It is a measure of the incompetence of the various Caribbean boards that Ganga believes that the involvement of disgraced billionaire, Sir Allen Stanford, is still the best thing to happen to cricket in the region for years. Trinidad have certainly benefited from his largesse. They won his US$1million jackpot in 2008 after finishing as runners-up to Guyana in the original Stanford 20/20 in 2006, and went on to supplement that windfall with a further US$280,000 in last year's one-off victory against Middlesex. Regardless of the subsequent revelations about the man, Ganga still believes he and his ilk owe Stanford a debt of gratitude.

"We must thank Sir Allen for his introduction of Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean, it has caught on and I'm sure it will continue to inspire a new generation of West Indian cricketers," said Ganga. "There's a whole lot of positives that he brought to the region, but then now when you reflect on the situation, you see all the different negatives that his actions have cost. We are not the ones to judge, but what I can say from a cricketing point of view is that we the players have benefited a lot, and I can surely say the WICB and all the territorial boards have benefited a lot in terms of infrastructure and facilities.

"He made a huge investment in WI cricket for years, and the dividends of that are showing now, and will continue for a couple more years. It's important for someone in the Caribbean to identify the huge and positive investment he made in West Indies cricket, and it is important for someone now to take up that slack now."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by convertorboy on (October 27, 2009, 0:17 GMT)

Re: gottalovetheraindance, windiesforeva, and AyrtonS Why is you so harsh on Daren? His form for T&T has been good to excellent, he provides valuable stability and guidance in the top and middle order, and he has an excellent analytical mind. No one since has taken up the role of opening successfully next to Gayle. Maybe Wavell can return, maybe Devon Smith/Xavier Marshall/Parchment/so many others stop making schoolboy mistakes, who knows?

Posted by gottalovetheraindance on (October 24, 2009, 17:12 GMT)

the best chance ganga had of regainging captaincy is by playing vs Bangladesh & in champions trophy. had he won the Test & ODI series at home & done better than reifer in south africa (which i am sure he could have) then he would have made a reasonable chance for himself to continue. However he either is not interested in the captaincy or this strategy did not occur to the 'most intelligent one'. i personally as a reasoning individual DO NOT believe that him making the final of some hurry come up bang bang 20/20 tournament means in any way that he is capable not only to lead effectively but to also improve upon his previous performances at the international level. i must commend him for the work he did as i wish him well. however their is still immense room for improvement!

Posted by delboy on (October 24, 2009, 1:19 GMT)

Hi Gevelsis, I hope like your man 'Ganga' you are now back down to earth. 'Heights of GREAT men, reach and kept were not attained by sudden flight', The man you think communicates must first talk to himself. When it really matters what shot selection does a thinking captain play? Someone in genuine control does not display signs of panic, it hands an advantage to your opposition. It Gayle's outward demeanor hurts you so much thank God you never saw Christ being taken to the cross, surely you'd be shouting more than crucify him. Try to be a true WI and forget the insularity. WI does not need a CAPTAIN to perform. It needs a team. Any of the 11 players selected should be able to lead, regardless of their country of birth; if Gayle does not have leadership quality then surely he deserves to be dropped and allowed to go make his millions away from the politics of the WI team. He would surely be a target of Notts, Surrey, Hampshire and several other IPL outfits.

Posted by gottalovetheraindance on (October 23, 2009, 20:08 GMT)

its severe lack of good reasoning that made west indies cricket the laughing stock of the cricketing world. yes ganga may be intelligent & talented & whatnot but he hasnt performed at the highest level. lets be honest isnt it better to try to maintain some stability within the team while it is trying harder to improve than it has done before? instead persons who should know better are trying to create another rift in the fragile relations that span the fabric of our cricket. ganga cant get the captaincy as he hasnt done enough to be in the squad. he still has time to focus on batting so he can make the squad & perform. this should be his priority now! afterwards he can aim for the captaincy. if he dont get it he would still be in a better position to contribute to the team than he is in now. he has a great oppurtunity in the match against Jamaica in Guyana next week. gayle also has an oppurtunity to show that he is capable of effective leadership as well as solid batting.

Posted by cordell.hadeed on (October 23, 2009, 7:44 GMT)

Being a Trinidad and Tobagonian as well a West Indian, I am proud of the Trinidad and Tobago team. Well done to all the players and management. If West Indies cricket team were to do this it would need the right management, strategy, determination and mind set. Nothing is impossible in West Indian cricket, we have the people to do it but we need the right guidance. I am not saying about the captaincy, I am talking about the upper level of management. West Indian cricket is here to stay, the reason I say this is because we are the second favorite team that people love and support. I ask all West Indians as well the rest of the cricketing world to help support us, stand by us and cheer for us for the upcoming Australia series. It is not an easy series but we can turn heads with the right support. God bless West Indian Cricket.

Posted by keirbe on (October 23, 2009, 1:41 GMT)

Its amazing how when TnT is doing so well that ppl want to criticize them and the captaincy. The fact of the matter is at the regional level in the last 4 years that TnT has been the best performing side. As for Guyana beating TnT at Standford 2 years ago...it came down to the last ball...remember that.

Ppl keep fighting Ganga and he cant make the side.....In the test against Austrailia, which was one of Ganga's first game he scored a double century. Ganga just never got the support from the management of the board. As for Gayle....someone called him a performer? well respected? by who? how many series wins has he had? how many big scores has he had? who has he motivated to perform? Please....Gayle only performs when ppl start complaining about how he isnt performing and then he makes a big score and goes back into *remission*.

Trinidad and Tobago is a team playing with not just unity but HEART. Ganga is undoubtedly the best strategic thinking captain in the caribbean.

Posted by AyrtonS on (October 21, 2009, 18:27 GMT)

At the end of the day 20/twenty cricket is slash and dash cricket, it is really geared to folks who have no concept of the real game. Darren could not handle TEST Cricket he proved it time and time again, So all those folks that want to make him captain of the West Indies Team needs their heads examined.

Chris Gayle has proven that he can do the job and do it well, he should be left alone.

Folks, people tend to forget that the strong Cricket teams in the West Indies, traditionally were Guyana, Barbados and Jamaica. They also tend to forget that Guyana defeated that exact same Trinidad team two years ago in the finals of the Sanford 20/twenty tournament in which Ganga was the captain. So please give me a break.

Posted by windiesforeva on (October 21, 2009, 15:55 GMT)

It is completely amazing how Ganga has all of a sudden become the ultimate captain for West Indies after winning a few matches against club teams. Ganga can't even make the team base on his average and people want to make the same mistake the board made back in 2007. Ganga couldn't justify his play back then and he can't now. Lets not forget that Ganga does well at 1st class level as a captain and ok as a batsman but has been able to handle the international level even though he has had a longer run than most players. This Twenty20 competition is at the first class level don't let us forget that. After saying all of that don't think i don't like Ganga. As others have said i think he is intelligent and represent his country well and i wish all the best for TNT but i'm not going to let a few victories at the 1st class level make me believe that the he is the next messiah.

Posted by why450 on (October 21, 2009, 12:29 GMT)

I am a Guyanese and i love my country but i also respect T&T's organization and play. They have without a doubt been the best side in the caribbean for years now. Ganga is a good captain and I strongly feel he can captain W.I but he first has to be able to make the team. When he plays, there is too much fear in him so he disappoints. The best I have seen him is against Australia in the Caribbean batting at no.3. Ganga work on making the team but that doesn't mean you will get the Captaincy because Gayle has generated great respect from the players but i do feel he would be a good Deputy to Gayle.

Posted by ChrisH on (October 21, 2009, 12:21 GMT)

And more misconceptions. Philip_Gnana, Sri Lanka is not a small island. It has 20 million people! That is almost twice as much people as in New York City proper and about the same amount as in the wider New York City area and nobody considers NYC to be small. Some of the islands you are talking about don't even have as many people as there are in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka (650,000) and the greater Colombo area has almost as much people as the entire WI (5 million). Sri Lanka is most definitely not a small island. Plus Sri Lanka's progress at the top level wasn't made rapidly, it was made through sustained good domestic cricket from about the 1930s/1940s and a full 40 years before they were admitted to the top level.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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