TRINIDAD and Tobago all-rounder Yannic Cariah is keen on representing the West Indies in all three international cricket formats.
“I am an all-formats player,” he told Newsday in a recent interview.
On Wednesday Cariah was a surprise inclusion in the West Indies T20 World Cup squad to compete in Australia later this year.
The 30-year-old impressed with the bat and ball in his international debut series last month against New Zealand.
He finished the three-match one-day international (ODI) series with just three wickets but showed good control and variation in his leg-spin to trouble the opposing batters.
In the second ODI, Cariah came in to bat with the West Indies collapsing on 27 for six chasing 213 for victory. With an embarrassing defeat looming, Cariah fought valiantly with a knock of 52 that gave the hosts a sniff of an unlikely victory before he was dismissed.
His performances have not been ignored by the West Indies selectors who have placed tremendous faith in him.
Apart from domestic matches, Cariah has played just four T20s.
On debut for the Red Steel in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in 2013, Cariah did not bowl or bat.
In his last match for the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in 2016, Cariah went wicket-less in one over for nine runs and did not bat.
However, Cariah’s determination and steel at the crease are known, but how will this translate in the fast-paced T20 arena?
Cariah, who scored his fifth first-class century for the Red Force in a 187-run loss to Leewards earlier this year, is not letting anyone pigeonhole him. He has set his sights on competing in ODIs, T20s and Test matches.
While the CPL has been going on without him, Cariah has been putting in the work in the nets.
He told Newsday he has been watching bits of the tournament during his free time but is focused on working on his game.
Asked about the West Indies Test tour of Australia later this year, Cariah added: “Playing all formats for West Indies is always my goal. Test cricket is the ultimate for me. I’m looking forward to any opportunity to play for West Indies and any opportunity to come my way.”
He did not hesitate when asked to clarify his comment about playing all formats. “All formats,” he said.
Cariah said the New Zealand series was an eye-opener for him and he’s ready to learn. “I think in the international game, it’s the intensity – the pace the game plays at. Understanding you gotta stay locked in and yuh gotta be thinking and smart in everything you do. Gotta absorb some pressure at times.”
He said he was happy to make his debut against such an elite ODI team.
“I think I enjoyed my performances. Different intensity, different level, I think I handled the pressure well and situations I was put in. For me, personally, playing a strong opposition is always better for me. I don’t know how other players think but it makes you lock in more and concentrate even harder. It brings out the best in you. I enjoy it.”
He said the 2-1 series defeat came down to a “few moments” that West Indies were unable to seize.
“We learn from it and we’ll do better next time.”
Cariah told Newsday he has been working hard for a decade since last representing the regional team at the Under-19 level. Asked whether any self-doubt crept in, Cariah said, “Growing up, I always felt I would play for West Indies, it was just about putting in consistent performances at the regional level.
“It was never a doubt. I believe in my ability. I believe in what I can offer to any team I play with. I think that was always my goal – to be the best cricketer I can be. I wasn’t going to stop until I achieved my goal of playing for West Indies. I kept pushing and pushing until it happened. The journey now starts for me.”
Hailing from the rural village of Coalmine, Sangre Grande, Cariah urged young people to believe in themselves to achieve their dreams.
“To be honest, coming from Coalmine, there are some clubs up here, (there are) some teams, (there are) some people that love cricket up here, but once you have a good mindset and believe in what you do, nothing is impossible. Nothing is difficult. Trust your process and everything will be fine.
“First of all, you gotta understand yourself. What you need to improve on, what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are, and put in the work to improve your game. It’s hard work.”
Asked what his weaknesses are, Cariah said, “Next question. I’m not gonna put it out there.” (TT Newsday)