(Trinidad Guardian) “Don’t blame or ridicule players for choosing to play T20 cricket instead of country” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the T&T Cricket Board Suruj Ragoonath.
His call comes in the midst of criticisms across the cricketing fraternity that local and regional players are chasing T20 dollars instead of showing loyalty to their country. On Thursday, however Ragoonath, who himself was a former T&T and West Indies opening batsman made it clear that the problem is not the players, but rather an administrative issue.
“We must understand that the sport of cricket now is not what it used to be many years ago and therefore we at the administrative level must find ways and means of dealing with the problem of players choosing to play for club rather than country,” Ragoonath said.
Because of this choice the T&T ‘Red Steel’ have been minus some 12 of their best players who are either on duty with the West Indies team, playing t20 in Bangladesh or at the Australia Big Bash. Although the other regional territories have been without their key players like T&T however, the Red Steel have found themselves in a spot of bother, losing two matches and winning one and drawing the other in the four matches played to date in the current West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League, Regional Four Day Tournament.
“I understand as a country that we may be saddened by the lost of our key players but as an organisation we have to continue our mandate of developing as many players as we can and if this is done successfully then we will have enough players to join the T&T team when key players leave.
Right now we are without some 12 players which means that we are really playing with a second-string team, where most of the players are young and inexperienced. However, I have a lot of confidence in coach Gus Logie and his staff to turn things around” Ragoonath said.
According to Ragoonath the dynamics of the game have changed from what it used to be. “Today players have options to play for whoever they want. They can play for their country, the region or a club and we must not try to dictate who they should play for. The challenge is for us as administrators to develop as many players to fit in for them when they leave and we have already begun doing this” Ragoonath said.
He revealed the cricket board has embarked on a programme of exposing young talented players and preparing them for top level competition.
“We have a training camp currently taking place and we will be sending players out to academies in Australia, England, South Africa and India etc to ensure they get sufficient experience to play at the top level. This means that when players leave to play in T20 leagues, we will have enough players to fill in for them and make up a strong, competitive T&T team” Ragoonath added.
The T&T team will next face the Windward Islands in St Lucia starting today and ending on Monday.