Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo
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Against the backdrop of the players dispute threatening to tear apart West Indies cricket, Trinidad & Tobago captain Daren Ganga said the team has a leading role to play in representing the entire region on the world stage and bringing smiles back to the Caribbean. Ganga stressed that the ongoing contracts row was not a distraction for the side that landed in India to compete in the Champions League Twenty20.
"It would be good for the entire Caribbean if we win this competition," he said in Bangalore. "Like we saw in the Stanford Super Series, when West Indies beat England, there is a lot to be gained. Hopefully we can have a positive effect on West Indian cricket.
"We're not just representing T&T, but the entire West Indian public and cricketing fraternity know that we're here representing them as well. This is virtually a West Indian team representing the entire region. As much as we want to do well for T&T, we have a bigger role in terms of representing the entire West Indies."
Several meetings between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players' Association have failed to break the impasse, though now with the mediation of the Caribbean community (CARICOM), talks are due to restart. Ganga chose not to comment too much on "that fiasco", but echoed Dwayne Bravo's comments about the ongoing impasse.
"It [the contracts row] is something that has been playing on the minds of all West Indian cricketers, but a lot of people are getting involved, such as the CARICOM governments and stakeholders in West Indies cricket, trying to resolve the situation. We as players know that the issue is not going to help us as a nation and we are optimistic that soon a full-strength West Indies will be competing at the international level once more. Despite the fiasco I still think West Indies cricket is strong.
"It has been an ongoing issue but we are focusing on this tournament as we have for the last couple months. A lot of players are frustrated by what has been happening at the international level, but we in Trinidad & Tobago have been focusing really hard on this competition and hopefully you will see the rewards. "
Ganga gave credit to Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire and cricket entrepreneur who sponsored the Stanford Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean as well as the one-off fixture between England and Stanford Superstars. Stanford is facing charges of fraud totalling US$ 7 billion and the WICB has not been paid the US$3.5 million fee owed to it from the Stanford 20/20 for 20 tournament last November, but Ganga felt Caribbean cricket had gained from Stanford's investment.
"Apart from the monetary purses and the cash prizes for each player, what Allen Stanford did is he contributed financially to each territorial board and by extension each Caribbean nation," he said. "You had a lot of financial aid being given to structures, to facilities and to equipment. Our cricket is better enhanced with his input and we're reaping the rewards of his investment."
Ganga also said it was evident to all that there was talent coming through the ranks after the Stanford era, brief though it was. "A lot of players, just look at Kieron Pollard have come through after such Twenty20 tournaments, so there are a lot of positives coming out of it [the Stanford Series]. A lot of players can go on to play international cricket from regional cricket."
This is T&T's second opportunity playing outside the regional competitions, after they featured in the Stanford Super Series last year. They beat Middlesex and lost to England by 1 run, so from a team point of view, Ganga said, the standard of play must remain high. "We've got a nice blend of players who've played international cricket and those who've been knocking on the door, so we're ready for this tournament. We started our preparation in July and have been very thorough. You are going to see some very exciting cricket from Trinidad & Tobago."