‘provide opportunities to young players’ – Daren Ganga queries youthful omissions from Red Force Super50 picks

Red Force Captain Darren Bravo reminded selectors of his quality with a high-class unbeaten fifty but rain had the final say, forcing a no-result in the opening game of the Regional Super50 Cup yesterday.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force’s 14-member team was announced on last Monday. In it were the likes of the “experienced” but ageing Jason Mohammed (37), Shannon Gabriel (35), Sunil Narine (35), skipper Darren Bravo (34), Kjorn Ottley (33), Khary Pierre (32), Yannic Cariah (31), Evin Lewis (31) and Terrance Hinds (31).

The other players are Akeal Hosein (30), Mark Deyal (30) Tion Webster (28), Joshua Da Silva (25) and Jayden Seales (22). The squad has an average age of 31.

former West Indies and Red Force captain Daren Ganga asked why the national selectors were awarding retainer contracts to veterans such as Mohammed, who, in his view, had no real chance of making another WI team.

Mohammed considered Ganga’s statement a personal attack on his fellow Barrackpore resident. But Ganga said it wasn’t, and his issue was why the retainer contracts weren’t being given to younger players, who have more realistic chances of breaking into the region’s senior team.

Asked his thoughts on this year’s Super50 Cup team, Ganga felt once again, the selectors may have got it wrong.

“Every selection panel for franchise teams should have a philosophy of how they go about selecting players for their franchise squad. That philosophy must have consideration for giving their team the best chance of winning the title (Super50), but at the same time, they must be able to project young talent.

“They must also be able to balance experience with youthfulness and to understand the tier of cricket they’re operating in.

“It’s not international cricket. And part of the franchise system is to provide opportunities to young players that can feed into West Indies international teams.

“TT has got it wrong in terms of the equilibrium between young upcoming players and senior players.”

Some cricket fans have even hinted that TT’s choice hampers West Indies’ chances of selecting the best team for the 2027 One-Day International World Cup, since the youths have to wait another year for possible national-team selection in this format.

Ganga clarified, however, that he doesn’t mind older players representing TT, but through a “pay as you play” system, with the retainers given to the younger crop of players.

“I’m a champion and voice for young players in TT. I made that statement earlier this year in the context of these (older) guys receiving monthly salaries. If you’re picking these guys, it’s pay for play. They should not be getting a monthly salary.

“Give it to the youths – they have the opportunities ahead of them and need this support more. I would love to see more investment in young players like Goolie, Pooran, Mohan, Cooper and Kallicharan.

“The retainers will help our youngsters dedicate their time to whatever programmes the TTCB has to make sure we could take these talented cricketers and turn them into world-class performers.”

The former batsman, who is the chairman of selectors for Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), still wants TT to win the Super50 Cup, despite wishing for a younger outfit.

“At the end of the day, I still wish TT the very best. I hope they do go on to win the title. But if they don’t…then that sort of justification I gave is something that would require deep consideration going forward.”

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