Red Force leg-spinner Imran Khan hints that 2024 West Indies Championship could be his last

By Sports Desk January 02, 2024
Imran Khan. Imran Khan.

Trinidad & Tobago Red Force leg-spinner Imran Khan has hinted that the 2024 West Indies Championship could be his last.

A stalwart in regional cricket, the 39-year-old Khan has played 113 first-class matches, taking 450 wickets, a milestone he achieved in the final game of the 2023 West Indies Championship against Jamaica Scorpions at Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.

Khan also had 71 wickets in 53 List A games. With the bat, Khan has 3,622 runs with a lone century of 125. He also has a half-century in List A cricket.

Asked if he was thinking about the time he has left in the game, “I haven’t set a time frame to step away,” was his response in an interview with the Trinidad Express recently.

“I’m still fit and wanting to play. I’ve always put Trinidad and Tobago cricket first for many decades however, I know the time will come soon for me to step down to make way for younger players, but I’ll still like to be around to share my experience and knowledge,” he said.

Khan made his first-class debut as an opening batsman in 2005 and was part of the 2006 T&T squad that won the regional first-class competition, the last time the country has done so to date.

“In 2024, I am looking forward to the four-day and possibly another Super50 tournament, maybe my last, and of course maintaining my fitness and ensuring that I continue to pass each fitness test will be key,” he said.

Despite his regional success, Khan never represented the West Indies at the highest level and accepts that, at 39, that dream is likely over.

“I guess the dream playing for West Indies is over, safe to say...but I’ll like to be around to share my knowledge. Now I’ll like to explore more franchise cricket. Clearly, I have what it takes to perform,” he said.

“Yes, I have achieved being one of the best all-rounders regionally; I have several accolades to prove that, but it always will hurt that I never got the opportunity to play for West Indies. I did everything required of me, but God has a better plan,” he added.

He most recently represented the Manipal Tigers in the Legends League T20 in India from November-December last year, taking nine wickets in five matches for the eventual champions.

Khan didn’t feature in the Super50 for the Red Force towards the end of 2024 and played four out of five matches for the franchise in the West Indies Championship at the start of the year, grabbing 13 wickets with a best of four for 47.

Off-spinner Bryan Charles was the top bowler for T&T in the four-day competition, taking 21 wickets in five matches.

“I wasn’t selected in the playing 11 for the first four-day game, but I used that to get mentally stronger, which showed in my performance with the bat and ball,” Khan explained.

Having missed the season opener, Khan scored 92, his 15th first-class half-century, against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes.

“I really wanted to score runs this year and I definitely did. Of course, not being selected for the squad for 50 overs was disappointing but I’m happy the team won,” said Khan.

“However, not being selected for that tournament, other doors opened...I had a great Legends League tournament finishing with most wickets and the title. I’ll say 2023 has been good to me,” he added.

 

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    Charles snared six wickets for 75 runs in 23.1 overs, including four maidens, as he proved most destructive for the Red Force, who pegged the Scorpions against the ropes at 159-9, after the vistors earlier ended their first innings at a daunting 432.

    Jeavor Royal, on 33, and Andrae Dennis, yet to score, will resume batting for the Scorpions, who are 273 runs behind heading into Friday’s third day.

    Scores: Trinidad and Tobago Red Force 432 all out (Joshua Da Silva 106, Terrance Hinds 79, Amir Jangoo 51, Kjorn Ottley 45, Khary Pierre 43, Navin Bidaisee 31; Jeavor Royal 3-113, Ojay Shields 2-61, Peat Salmon 2-83).

    Jamaica Scorpions 159-9 (Kirk McKenzie 57, Jeavor Royal 33 not out; Bryan Charles 6-75, Khary Pierre 2-46).

    Earlier, Red Force resuming on 308-7, added another 124 runs to their overnight total, thanks to Terrance Hinds and Khary Pierre, who put together 91 for the eighth wicket. Hinds, added 58 runs to his overnight score of 21, in a just over two-hour 118-ball knock that included seven fours and five sixes.

    Pierre, who resumed on one, had two fours and two sixes in his 99-ball 43, as the Red Force lower order built on the momentum left by captain Joshua Da Silva, who initially revived the innings with a well-played century.

    Royal was the most successful Scorpions bowler with 3-113 from 37 overs, while pacer Ojay Shields and off-spinner Peat Salmon took two wickets apiece.

    If the Scorpions were frustrated by Red Force’s prolonged innings, then their week got a bit worse, as they failed to contend with the skill and precision of spinners Charles and Pierre.

    Charles, 28, first removed opener Javaughn Buchanan (10), and later ripped through the middle order, erasing any hopes the Scorpions had of staging a fightback.

    In fact, only West Indies left-handed batsman Kirk McKenzie, who topscored with a patient 153-ball 57, including two fours and two sixes, offered some resistance, before Royal became the second batsman to pass 20 runs. Pierre had 2-46 in 21 overs.

    Elsewhere, at Frank Worrell Field in Trinidad and Tobago, Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners lead Guyana Harpy Eagles by 142 with three second innings wickets intact.

    Scores: Campuses & Colleges Marooners 200 all out (Demario Richards 43, Romario Greaves 36, Avinash Mahabirsingh 23, Amari Goodridge 22, Jediah Blades 22 not out, Jarion Hoyte 21; Nial Smith 3-45, Veerasammy Permaul 3-51, Gudakesh Motie 2-40, Isai Thorne 2-45) and 165 for seven (Odaine McCatty 56, Shamarh Brooks 54 not out; Kevin Sinclair 2-29, Gudakesh Motie 2-42, Veerasammy Permaul 2-44).

    Guyana Harpy Eagles 223 all out (Raymond Perez 62, Tevin Imlach 55, Kevin Sinclair 37, Kevlon Anderson 27; Avinash Mahabirsingh 17.4-2-51-8).

    At the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, Barbados Pride lead Cricket West Indies Academy by 21 with seven second innings wickets in hand.

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    CWI Academy 243 all out (Ackeem Auguste 76, Carlon Tuckett-Bowen 49, Johan Layne 38, McKenny Clarke 30; Akeem Jordan 4-76, Raymon Reifer 2-32, Jair McAllister 2-40, Shaquille Cumberbatch 2-75).

    Meanwhile, At Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago, Leeward Islands Hurricanes were 232 runs ahead of Windward Islands Volcanoes, with eight second innings wickets intact.

    Leeward Islands Hurricanes 300 all out (Mikyle Louis 100, Jewel Andrew 68, Jeremiah Louis 43, Jahmar Hamilton 34; Ryan John 3-67, Gilon Tyson 2-33, Daren Cyrus 2-70) and 111 for two (Mikyle Louis 33, Kieran Powell 31).

    Windward Islands Volcanoes 179 all out (Johann Jeremiah 41, Shamar Springer 33, Kavem Hodge 29, Stephan Pascal 25; Daniel Doram 16-5-34-6, Hayden Walsh Jr 3-21).

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    The move away from the current regional setup to a fully professionalised top flight from 2025, aligning with first-class counties in the process, is a major step forward for women’s cricket but not everyone has made the initial cut.

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    However, ECB chief executive Richard Gould made it clear there was no sense of re-litigating those issues in a process that was focused entirely on elevating women’s cricket to fresh heights.

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    Yorkshire, who have hosted the Northern Diamonds and can now expect their top players to head elsewhere in search of the best – and best-paid – cricket opportunities, had earlier tabled their own statement.

    “Yorkshire County Cricket Club are surprised and disappointed not to be awarded one of the initial Tier 1 women’s teams,” it read.

    “The news is especially frustrating and upsetting for the players and staff at the Northern Diamonds. Our focus is on supporting them through this difficult period and gaining as much clarity on what the future looks like.”

    Simon Phillip, speaking as chair of a Kent side who have hosted the South East Stars in recent seasons, was similarly aggrieved.

    “As the most successful county team in the history of Women’s Cricket, offering the only dedicated women’s performance centre at Beckenham and based in a highly diverse south-east London population of 1.2 million people, the decision is difficult to swallow,” he said.

    “Whilst this decision will take some getting over, we remain committed to women’s and girls’ cricket and are determined to not let it hamper our long-term ambitions.”

    Leicestershire were also vocal about their feelings on missing the boat, claiming “a missed opportunity by the ECB” and saying the club was “crestfallen” not be included.

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    Bassarath, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Bassarath also revealed that he reached out to Queen’s Park Cricket Club president Nigel Camacho – Narine’s domestic club – for help.

    “I have also spoken to the QPCC president, and he indicated to me that he will also reach out to Sunil to see if he can change his mind to come on board," he shared.

    West Indies are set to open their T20 World Cup campaign against Papa New Guinea in Guyana, on June 2.  Afghanistan, New Zealand, and Uganda are the other teams in the group.

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