Port-of-Spain, Trinidad – Tino Best is hoping to give Barbados a “lift off” when they clash with the Leeward Islands in their opening match of the Caribbean T20 on Monday afternoon at Queen’s Park Oval.
The lion-hearted pacer’s performances with the new ball will be crucial if his team is to challenge for the title – which has eluded them in all three tournament so far. He was sharp and steady in the warm-up win over the Trinidad & Tobago Reserves on Thursday.
“I think I bowled pretty well … got a wicket off my three overs. I bowled with heart and I bowled with good ‘heat’, so that was good for me. As a team, it was good to get one in the win column as we approach the business end. We came to Trinidad early to get in a few matches and get used to the conditions. Most of us have played at the Oval (Queen’s Park Oval) so we know what to expect, but it adds to come and get a feel from early,” Best said.
Barbados might have the richest cricketing history in the region, but they have failed to do the job in the regional Twenty20 format. The island’s best showing was back in 2010 – when they reached the Final – but lost to Guyana in the last over.
“Winning is in the forefront of our thoughts. The Caribbean Premier League has been launched and this is probably the last time we will play as ‘Barbados’ in the Caribbean T20. The first year we went to final and lost and that hit us hard. Then, we lost out again in the following year and we had a heartbreaking semi defeat against Trinidad and Tobago last year,” Best said.
“Last year it was going well for us but we faltered. Looking at our squad this year, we think we are one of the best teams in this tournament. We are really happy with the new format – you get to meet everyone in the preliminaries and then the top team moves to the final with the second-placed and third-placed teams moving to the play-off. That will add some spice.”
The 31-year-old added: “This is a massively important event for us. As a senior player it is a big thing for me. We have some senior players in our dressing room who can do the business and we also have some young players who are so eager to get out there and prove their worth. The desire is there, there is no doubt about that.”
Best has also backed new captain Dwayne Smith to do the job. On Thursday Smith starred with both bat and ball – taking three wickets and making an unbeaten half-century at the top of the order.
“He has a positive effect on the team and he has emerged as the man in charge and the man to take us forward. He is our most experienced T20 player, having played all over the world, and he knows the ins and outs of the game. He can win it for you with bat, with ball and in the field.”