Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette
Turks and Caicos Islands, coached by former Bermuda national cricket coach Mark Harper, last week announced a 13- member squad that will take on volcano-ravaged Montserrat in the Stanford Twenty20 Tournament in Antigua next January.
Earlier this year Guyanese Harper agreed to terms of a one-year deal with the Turks and Caicos Cricket Association and since taking over the helm of the Caribbean minnows has had to overcome various challenges while working on a shoestring budget.
"Things are very challenging here. Our preparations have had to overcome challenges such as gear and inadequate facilities," Harper said.
But the former cricketer is nonetheless determined to make the most of limited resources and has already identified a few proverbial rough diamonds.
"The batting has good potential with capable batsmen right down the order while our wicket keeper is very capable," Harper said.
The Turks and Caicos squad is comprised of four locals, four players from the Windward Islands, three Jamaicans and two others from the coach's native Guyana.
"We have a core group of players about eight of whom are very committed and are working very hard while it is the view of a few wise men that we are going to defeat Montserrat with no problem," Harper said.
Just prior to team selection Harper's men were put through their paces by Stanford Twenty20 fitness expert Jawaki Jones.
Harper's charges have also spent as much time as possible sharpening their skills in the nets where emphasis is specifically placed on match day scenarios.
Harper, who has to travel between the two Islands to fulfil his coaching duties, also has his players hitting the irons in the gym regularly in addition to an already intense training regiment that sees the Caribbean team train six days per week and stage practice matches on artificial grass and flex pitches on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Bermuda, who take on defending Stanford Twenty20 champions Guyana next February in Antigua, will announce a 16-member squad later this week.
Bermuda bowed out of the inaugural Stanford tournament last year at the first hurdle after going down heavily to Chris Gayle's Jamaica.