T&T keen for success in four-day format
Trinidad and Tobago captain Daren Ganga and coach Kelvin Williams are looking at building on a successful year of limited-overs cricket with success in the four-day format.
T&T have won three of the five tournaments they competed in this year - the Stanford 20/20 Series, the Champions Cup in the Stanford Super Series, and the WICB Cup. The ones that got away were the four-day regional Carib Beer Series and the Carib Beer Challenge Final, which is the climax of the West Indies first-class season. T&T were the defending champions in the Carib Beer Challenge Final but lost the five-day match to Jamaica in three days.
The challenge of winning the regional series next year will be greater, since the competition will be extended, with each territory playing ten games spread over 13 weeks. So what will it take for T&T to master this format again?
"It will take stamina, it will take endurance and consistency," Ganga said. "Those are the sort of things we fall down in, in terms of being cricketers. I think it's going to test the strength … it's going to test the endurance of our team. We're in for a very long season." However, he is optimistic his side will have a headstart over the rest of the competition, including defending champions Jamaica.
"I think we definitely have the momentum from this tournament, going into the 2009 season," he said. "Preparations will begin from now, till we start on January 9. It's going to be a lot of hard work behind the scenes. We've got a lot of young players on the fringes who are knocking for spaces and competition is always healthy. I think we are in good stead as a regional cricket team."
Ganga's confidence stems from not only the results on the field but also the harmonious team atmosphere, inclusive of the new technical-management team of Williams, manager Colin Borde and trainer Ronald Rogers. When the team returned to Trinidad from Guyana with the WICB Cup, Ganga made special mention of the trio, especially Williams - who, he said, "has done a tremendous job".
The loss in the Carib Beer Challenge Final is the only blemish on Williams' record so far but he said the task of getting his players to rise to the demands of the longer game did not worry him.
"I'm not concerned. These players could adjust and adapt," he said. "They did it in the past and there is no reason why they can't do it again. It's all a mind game. We need to prepare them mentally for that challenge."
Williams also stressed the importance of physical fitness. "Our preparation has to be increased, a lot of high intensity [work]," he said. "We need to be in top shape for that competition. I have no doubt that we are going to finish somewhere at the top".