The victorious team celebrate © T&T Express
Trinidad and Tobago captain Daren Ganga shared his team's capture of the 2006 Carib Beer Cup with the country.
"Today, we have achieved our dream as a team and we would just like to dedicate this (win) to the entire Trinidad and Tobago because our theme is: the pride of the nation is in our hands."
Ganga's dedication to the nation came at Piarco International Airport, where a celebratory function was held for the squad which captured T&T's first regional four-day title since 1985.
The skipper also told the audience, which included Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Roger Boynes, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board Deryck Murray and the trophy-winning captain in 1985, Rangy Nanan, that the league title clinched by Sunday's 264-run victory over previous leaders Barbados was just the end of a process that had begun long before this season.
"It started the very next day when we arrived after suffering five consecutive defeats in our regional one-day competition (in October 2005)," said Ganga. "And I'm sure every member of the team would agree with me was a tough road to travel."
In remarking further on the turnaround which landed the Cup, Ganga paid "special tribute" to his players and the management staff, which included coaches David Williams and Bernard Julien, manager Omar Khan and trainer Gerald Garcia. "You have made my job the easiest job in the world," he said of his players.
In his comments on T&T's triumph, TTCB president Murray made it clear: "This triumph belongs to the players." Murray also singled out the contributions of some of the more senior members of Ganga's squad. "We know that we have a talented group of young players...but we also know that youth and talent alone won't guarantee success," he said. "That needs to be blended in with hard work and also with experience. We had Dave Mohammed, who has had experience of Test cricket before...Mervyn Dillon, and that experience blended in with the others to bring victory at the convenient time."
The president also made particular mention of the team's most senior player, Brian Lara. "He displayed the enthusiasm and urgency of a player making his debut, but combined that with the skill of the master that he truly is," Murray said, adding: "I want you to know that we appreciate your presence in the Trinidad and Tobago team. Your assured presence lifts your teammates, provides inspiration to the youngsters and the nation as a whole ..."
Murray also told the squad that the TTCB "remains committed to treating cricket and you, the players, as the priority and we assure you of our full support in preparing for the later stages of the season and beyond". And reminding his audience that the second phase of the competition still lay ahead (the re-scheduled semi-finals and final in April), the president urged the players not to slack off.
"Your outstanding achievement is not the end of the journey, but it's a catalyst for further development," he said. "As you go back to club cricket, don't let this be a comedown. It's your responsibility to lift the standard of your club teams so that not only are you mentally and physically prepared when you resume the knockout stages of the tournament, but it also helps to lift the standard of cricket in Trinidad and Tobago to the long-term benefit of our cricket," stated Murray.
In his turn addressing the gathering, Minister Boynes alluded to the imminent launch of "a massive national youth development cricket programme" to "build on this achievement".