Stylish T&T all-rounder Lendl Simmons returned to the T&T team after more than four years away from the longer format of the game, and he's expected to be in the final eleven to face Barbados Pride in Round Seven of the West Indies Four-Day Regional Championship at Kensington Oval, Barbados, starting on Thursday.
Simmons earned a call-up by new coach Mervyn Dillon who publicly said he had hoped the T&T batting would have been better, despite a the team's 93-run win over the four-time defending champions Guyana Jaguars on Saturday at the Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
The win also revived T&T's efforts of claiming the title Dillion said. He told reporters that the team is now back in contention after the two other matches - the Jamaica Scorpions triumph over Leeward Islands Hurricanes, and the Windward Islands Volcanoes victory over the Barbados Pride worked in his team's favour.
Simmons comes in as a replacement for the out-of-form Tion Webster who failed to impress as the T&T batters were routed for a meagre 108 in the first innings. Simmons, a right-hand opening batsman last wore national colours in December 2014, scoring 59 and 10 against Guyana, before his decision to focus on the T20 version of the game kept him out of first-class cricket thereafter.
He was the lone batsman to join the squad after coach Dillon told reporters he was keen on giving veteran players the opportunity to make the team if they could. Fast bowler Ravi Rampaul was the first to benefit from the coach's call, and he played a pivotal role in Saturday's victory, by taking the prized wicket of Tagnarine Chanderpaul for 19.
Soon after touching down on Bajan soil yesterday Dillon said Simmons will bring a lot of experience to the team in the tournament, noting that, "There will be tough times ahead."
Dillon, a former T&T and West Indies fast bowler, believes Simmons will help the team in the midst of an already gloomy record against the Barbadians in the past. "Simmons has offered to help to the team and we have accepted it."
His return has increased the confidence level in the T&T camp and has improved the expectation level also, but Dillon called for his players to not get complacent as the team still has a long way to go. The team left for Barbados yesterday.
Denesh Ramdin (Captain), Joshua Da Silva, Jeremy Solozano, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Yannic Cariah, Imran Khan, Odean Smith, Bryan Charles, Anderson Phillip, Khary Pierre, Daniel St Clair, Ravi Rampaul.
Mervyn Dillon (Coach), David Furlonge (Assistant Coach/Manager), Jason Pilgrim (Physio)