NSW v T&T, Final, Champions League October 23, 2009

Defeated, but far from discouraged

They didn't win the tournament, but T&T got the cricketing world talking of the talent in the Caribbean

Trinidad & Tobago should not be disheartened at having lost the final, their only defeat of the tournament. Instead, the tiny nation of 1.3 million should be proud of its men, who not only won Indian hearts with their distinctive brand of cricket but also brought alive the tournament which at its halfway stage was flickering once the hopes of the IPL teams had been extinguished.

But the Trini-Tobagonians - as they are called back home - brought the crowds to their feet with the flair that was once a hallmark of Caribbean cricket. They rose to the occasion when not many gave them a chance. Daren Ganga brought an inexperienced team to the tournament and there were few expectations, but they dazzled everyone with some endearing performances - natural, fearless, open and vulnerable. That last characteristic, so human, was completely opposite to their Australian opponents this evening.

Both sides had a measure of each other, having already clashed once at the same venue last week, a tense affair that was clinched single-handedly by Kieron Pollard. His powerful 54 off 18 balls reverberated around the cricketing globe, bringing desperate IPL millionaires knocking on his door.

Ironically, Pollard walked in today to bat under similar testing circumstances. Dwayne Bravo, whose brilliant half-century against the Cobras had put T&T into the final, had just played on to Doug Bollinger. As Bravo and later Ganga departed after making starts, Pollard walked out to loud applause. If he could win the game when the equation was 55 from the last five overs, surely he could pull off another trick today when 92 were needed from the last ten.

But today the pressure and the situation were of a different kind, something virtually unknown to most of the T&T players, who were playing on the international stage for the first time. It didn't help that the crowds expected a six off every ball. William Perkins, Adrian Barath and Lendl Simmons, all fine young men with nerves of steel, had played some terrific knocks in previous games but this was the summit and they slipped even before they got a grip. To face men like Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Doug Bollinger in a final of the most expensive cricket tournament was no doubt an exciting prospect; but there's always a method in the madness. Sadly, that was absent in T&T's chase.

T&T were also hurt by the absence of a second specialist fast bowler. Bravo is a good foil to the consistent Ravi Rampaul, but he has found it hard to stick to a tight line. Yesterday his three overs cost 46 and today he again expensive, going for 28 in three.

"We set ourselves goals with regards to getting the runs but we lost our head in certain situations," Ganga said later. He admitted that the pressure of playing in a big occasion was too much for his players. "I just don't think we understood how to go about getting that 160. When you lose wickets very early in a Twenty20 final it puts a lot of our players under pressure and I don't think we handled that pressure well."

Ganga was in no way being harsh on his young team-mates. It's just that in this format, players needed to think on their feet and adapt to conditions. That did not happen today. "It was the one game we faltered a bit," Ganga said.

Still, with their successful run in the Champions League, T&T have managed to get the cricketing world talking of the talent in the Caribbean. More importantly, the ability of the youngsters to believe in themselves and carry themselves in a mature fashion in victory and defeat has shown that there is still hope for the revival of West Indian cricket.

"For both West Indies and T&T, this performance has put our cricket back on the horizon," said Ganga. "There's been a lot of things that people don't want to hear about our cricket. But this is something that has turned that around. It is just going to ensure we grow as a cricketing nation, not just T&T but the rest of the West Indies too."

In the end T&T should go back happy for all the smiles they put on the faces of the Indian public. Every game they played, the Indians turned up in huge numbers; today the stadium was brimming with support for T&T. There is no doubt that Ganga's men were the entertainers of the Champions League.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • giovaughn on October 25, 2009, 14:26 GMT

    MejiasBoy you really think Allan Border or any of the people you named would have gotten the Australian captaincy with a overall test average of 25 & an average of 22 when on tour? a cricketer must be able to perform & earn his place in a team before he can even think about captaincy. what ganga needs to do is to perform in a manner which makes his place in the team as a batsman unquestionable. then he will be in a position to assist the captain with decision making & strategic planning. if the captain fails to perform in his role as batsman & leader then he can push his cause for the captaincy. however ganga has not done enough to merit a recall to the team much more to become captain!

  • Jackie on October 25, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    NSW contained a few International players. I just wonder if this is the team that won the local trophy that put them in the Champions League. Trini-Tobago is obviously the local team. What we don't want is the tournament ending up with International signings next year for the local teams. Or the team that won their local trophy topped up with their International Players ousting the players that got them there. The whole point of the tournament is to get local players on the International stage.

  • Steven on October 25, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    I believe it worked against Trinidad by having to play 2 of the hardest games in 2 days. The final should have been on Saturday instead of Friday as NSW had a day to rest having played on Wednesday. I haven't heard anyone speak or write about this. Trinidad suffered as a result of this.


  • giovaughn on October 24, 2009, 16:47 GMT

    MejiasBoy it seems you drink too much rum on friday night man. you really think Allan Border or anyone after him would have gotten the Australian captaincy much more been allowed to keep it with an overall average of 25 & an average 22 when on tour? he could have had the leadership quality,charisma & intelligence of Michael Manley or Bustamante or Basdeo Panday, as we in jamaica say " him wouldnt even captain a g-string side!" you people jumping on the Ganga bandwagon need to get your heads examined! if he is so great & is the paneacia for all the West Indian cricket woes why didnt he step up to the plate VS Hasan in July? i am sure he wood hav done better than Floyd Reifer. had he won that series & improved our performance in SA you think WICB/Selectors would give Gayle a chance? maybe chris woudnt even make the touring side! that is how gullible the board is. Hunte & co would be singing his praises from every tree top! but cheer up he still has WICB cup to prove himself.

  • srini on October 24, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    Well done T&T for reaching the finals. But what happened in the finals was a big big let-down & dissappointment. It looked as if each batsmen wanted to be a Pollard. There was no rotation of strike even when wickets were falling from both ends regularly like in the semifinals when Ganga & Bravo had a partnership going when the chips were down. The only resaon I could see was that the team looked over-confident at the score of NSW's 159 and threw away their wickets. The semifinal win was easy only cos of dropped catches, but looks the lesson was not learnt. Thought Alarm bells should have been rining for cautiuos approach when Perkins was bowled by Lee in the 2nd ball of the 1st over.One end should have been used to rotate strike and the other to attack, when wickets were falling regularly but Not having plan B has let down the talented T&T team. It was a big dissappointment for me, a fan from hyderabad, watching all your matches in Hyderabad after the Team had beatan Deccan Chargers

  • Richard on October 24, 2009, 12:54 GMT

    Well done NSW to win the CLT20! Even though they were beaten, T&T CAN walk away with their heads held high! From an Australian, well done T&T! @novelw, bring it on! We're ready... ;)

  • Paul on October 24, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    They did very well to get the final against all odds but unfortunately when it mattered for all the cookies they could not get it done.

  • Kunal on October 24, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    T20 has always promised entertainment. Trinidad & Tobago were entertainment in the truest, complete with the dazzle and unpredictability. May their tribe increase in the Windies!

  • chandana on October 24, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    they played with flare, a smile on their faces and hearts on their sleeves, against the clinical and professional blues. this was Brazil vs Germany in football; France vs New Zealand in rugby; Aggasi vs Sampras in tennis; one an entertainer- the other a perfectionist. Both have a place in the game and both created spectator interest in a country that is notoriously home-biased. At the end of the day the international experience in the blues won over the youthful exuberance of the reds. If only the armchair idiots in the west indies put their big egos and tummys aside and make way for these talented cricketers for a change !!! cheers from sri lanka

  • james on October 24, 2009, 2:51 GMT

    great article. WI tour Aus soon..Aus be prepared for the backlash! couple of TT guys will be in that team.

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