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23
Fri, Aug

- TEAM TTO THRIVE - 

Ben Stokes collapses to his knees after England's agonising defeat CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

CRICKET

West Indies (161/6) beat England (155/9) by four wickets

It was one of the most remarkable victories ever known, a match that will resound well beyond the boundaries of this stadium, well beyond the boundaries of Twenty20, as a finish for the ages. With six balls required and 19 runs to get, the West Indies looked a beaten side. England stood on the verge of a crowning glory of which few had dared to dream. Ben Stokes stood with the ball in his hand. But within the space of barely a minute, the dream evaporated into the sweltering Kolkata night.

As Carlos Brathwaite’s fourth six sailed into the air, not to be seen again, the jubilant West Indies players flooded the field, their belief transforming into disbelief. Stokes sank to the floor in despair, inconsolable. A matter of millimetres had separated him and his team from glory. The difference between four perfect yorkers and four clean half-volleys, all of which disappeared into the stands.

When the smoke clears and the emotions simmer down a little, perhaps even the English will reflect on what a wonderful final it was, lurching this way and that like a fairground ride. Nobody’s pulse rate was safe. England’s total of 155 looked feeble, flimsy, fodder in the face of the big West Indian cannons. But with fire running through their veins, the men in red bared their teeth and bit back, taking three early West Indian wickets and setting up a chase of nerve-shredding tension. Just as he had done four years ago in Sri Lanka, Marlon Samuels played the match-winning innings: 85 not out of 66 balls, having been reprieved early on by a matter of millimetres. Those millimetres will scar the memory of every English cricket fan for many, many years.

The indefatigable Joe Root deserved better. After a terrible start by England, his brave 54 gave them a target to bowl at. Then, he took two wickets in a stunning first over to swing the game England’s way. And there it stayed right until the final over, as England’s fast bowlers maintained a relentless, metronomic discipline.

It was a delightfully spicy, deliciously bitchy encounter too. Not even India and Pakistan played a final as antagonistic as this. The West Indies’ habit of doing their “Champion” dance after every England wicket began to irk even the mild-mannered Root. When England bowled, the curses flowed even more freely than the boundaries. They came, they swore, they so nearly conquered.

For the West Indies, a conglomerate of vastly different islands united in just this one cause, it was a fitting reward for the tournament’s most entertaining, strong-willed team. From spinner Samuel Badree at the start of the match to Brathwaite at the end, they are a team of champions in every sense. Twenty20 is the future, and for all their many problems, Twenty20 is their future.

When it came down to it, it was the West Indies who held their nerve. England began tentatively, losing Jason Roy for a duck, Alex Hales for 1, captain Eoin Morgan for a tortuous 5. Were it not for the pounding pop music, you could have heard England’s nerves jangling.

But where would England be without Root? With the reliable Jos Buttler in tow, the pair set about rebuilding England’s crumbling edifice. Buttler holed out at deep mid-wicket going for his fourth maximum, and when England lost three wickets – including Root in four balls, humiliation beckoned.

England needed something. A score. A toe-hold in the game. Something to talk about, if nothing else. David Willey tried his best with two sixes off Dwayne Bravo’s 17th over. Chris Jordan flicked a four in the final over to lift England above 150. Their total looked at least 20 short, even taking into account that no team had ever chased down more than 148. But it was something.

Enter Root. After a parsimonious first over from Willey, Morgan lobbed the ball to his talisman, his totem, his spirit animal, his part-time off-spinner with a career economy rate of 10.9. Down the pitch first ball came a harrumphing Johnson Charles, trying to hit him into Jharkand, finding only the basket-hands of Stokes at long-off.

Two balls later, exactly the same thing happened. Down the pitch, the long handle, a clean swing, an even cleaner catch by Stokes, running around to his right. Except this time it was the big scalp: the leviathan Chris Gayle, out second ball. The England players swarmed towards each other in pure delirium. Bliss was it in that dusk to be alive, but to be Root was very heaven.

Lendl Simmons went next, LBW to Willey first ball, and all of a sudden England were in the ascendancy. Samuels counter-attacked, but on 27 bottom-edged a cut off Liam Plunket that Buttler took very low. Too low, in fact: the third umpire decided that the ball had brushed the ground on its way into Buttler’s gloves.

In hindsight, it was a decision that turned the game. Plunkett and Adil Rashid bowled superbly to keep the asking rate rising, but with eight overs left the West Indies made their move. First Bravo, and then Samuels, picked up the pace. Samuels collared Plunkett for two consecutive sixes. Willey hit back in the 16th over with the crucial wickets of Andre Russell and Darren Sammy, sending them back to the pavilion with the minimum of delicacy. With 12 balls remaining, 27 were required. Jordan’s final over was sensational: a four, four singles and a dot ball. He, too, deserved better.

Stokes had, until that final over, been one of England’s heroes. He had taken three tough catches on the boundary, saved countless runs in the field, and bowled two tidy overs at a difficult stage of the innings. Forgiveness, from his team-mates and the public will be swift. You only hope he can forgive himself.

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Rheeza Grant Interview - August 2019 - 2019 Pan Am Games, Lima, Peru

Nicholas Paul of Trinidad and Tobago celebrates after winning men's sprint gold at the Pan American Games ©Getty Images

2019 Pan Amer­i­can Games

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) President Brian Lewis has praised his nation's athletes after the country recorded their best medal performance at the Pan American Games in Lima.

Colin Murray | colomurray@gmail.com

2019 Pan Amer­i­can Games

A few fans stopped me to ask what I thought about the West In­dies' per­for­mance so far in the se­ries against In­dia in both the T20's and the ODIs.

DOUBLE GOLD MEDALLIST! Nicholas Paul of T&T celebrates beating compatriot Phillip Njisanel, also of T&T, to win the gold medal in the track cycling men's sprint final at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru on August 3. (AP)

2019 Pan Amer­i­can Games

The Pan Amer­i­can Games closed on Sun­day but T&T is still cel­e­brat­ing its his­toric per­for­mance, claim­ing 13 medals, the most ever.

I happen to be initially browsing but having caught my attention, I then perused thoroughly, the 2018 Oxford Business Group country report on Trinidad and Tobago.  There were a number of perespectives, snap shots and overviews written. If one wanted to get a well researched and documented overview of the economic and business landscape within the twin Island Republic.

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With the one-year countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games officially underway, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, (TTOC) has announced that TTO athletes will benefit from a pre-games training camp at the Japan Athlete Training Center Osumi, in Osaki Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, as part of Japan’s Host Town Initiative.

Dylan Carter

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In this file photo, (from L) TT's Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Richard Thompson and Marc Burns celebrate after winning silver in the men's 4×100m relay final at the National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 22, 2008.

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TEAM TTO has been assured of a gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Twelve years after their second place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games, sprinters Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Keston Bledman will receive their 4x100m relay gold.

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