EXPERIENCED leg spinner Imran Khan, 38, who was in his rookie season the last time the TT Red Force copped the regional four-day title way back in 2005/2006, is hungry for another crown before he decides to hang up his boots.
Khan is preparing for the 2023 West Indies Four-Day Championships which bowls off in early February. Khan has been a consistent wicket-taker throughout his career grabbing 437 wickets in 109 First Class matches. He has batted in many positions in the line-up including opening the batting. The right-hander has scored 3,492 runs with one century and 14 half centuries at an average of 21.03.
Khan was one of the youngsters in the Red Force team which won the 2005/2006 Carib Beer Cup captained by Daren Ganga. Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin and Samuel Badree were among those in the squad. Legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara also represented TT that season.
“It has been a bit up and down (during my career). I am still motivated to play for West Indies, but I am not thinking about that,” Khan said. “It is just about enjoying my cricket now and trying to help TT cricket as much as I can, especially to win this (four-day) title.”
Khan thinks his leadership can help Red Force end their title drought.
“We have not won it since 2005, so I think it is important for my experience to try to rally around the younger players and help them as well going forward.”
Red Force made a convincing start in the 2022 four-day season, but faded in the second half of the tournament and ended fourth in the six-team competition.
“Last year we were in a good position, but unfortunately it did not end the way we wanted it…we really hoping to go the full distance.”
Khan is hopeful the experienced players like Darren Bravo and Jason Mohammed will gel with the younger players such as Jyd Goolie and Jeremy Solozano.
Discussing this season’s training, Khan said, “So far training has been good. The weather hampered us a bit with the outdoor training, but we got a couple sessions in (and) we got a practice game in which really went good for us. The batsmen (did well). That’s really good signs because especially in this format for the last couple years our batting has been struggling.”
The Red Force’s spin bowling department has delivered in recent years with the likes of Khan, off spinner Bryan Charles and the left-arm pair of Akeal Hosein and Khary Pierre.
“Bowling wise I think we have our bowling covered. This year I think we will be missing some crucial players, our fast bowlers. It is an opportunity for the younger guys to step up in that aspect.” Fast bowler Jayden Seales is injured and fast bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Anderson Phillip may be on West Indies duty for part of the four-day season.
Khan said reaching the 500-wicket landmark in First Class cricket is one of his targets. “I would love to (achieve that milestone). That’s one of my main goals. The last two years with covid19 set it back a bit. Once I am fit I am really hoping I could reach 500 probably over the next two years once I keep performing. I think that will be my main goal before I hang up the boots.”
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