If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail. That cliché has been usedto remind and warn students about the consequencesof “stuffing” for examinations.It is also applicable in sports, especially cricket, where preparation, which is essential, can be done in manydifferent ways. Early preparation is necessary but the entire process must be done properlyto maximize results withthe objective of getting the players match-ready. The decision to have specialized training sessions, which now seem to the preferred approach of the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) coaches and selectors while moving away from trial matches, is one which should be seriously analyzed while weighing the pros and cons. In my view, cutting out trial matches, which were integralto the selection of successful Barbados teams in the past,is a cheap cop-out. Is savinga few dollars on lunch and ground staff more important than match preparation? Can selectors and coaches truly judge the best Twenty20 cricketers in the country solely on net sessions? Trials usually separate the men from the boys, the former being those who can handlethe pressure of producing performances in batting or bowling to gain selection. Barbados went a similar route for the 2012 tournament when a final 14-man squad was selected without a solitary trial match even though last year’s domestic Sagicor T20 Tournament was severely affected by rain, restricting some teams to just a single game or two. This time around, there has been perfect weather over the last four weekends and eight rounds or matches have been contested, with nearly all the teams playing at least seven matches. The upshot is that a number of players who were surprisingly not named in the 23-man provisional list have continued to remind the selectors of their ability, while some who were lucky to be included have done little to justify inclusion. LIME’s 24-year-old left-hander Justin Brathwaite has virtually knocked down the selectors’ door, demanding inclusion in the training squad with a superb 101 against Carlton on Sunday at the Desmond Haynes Oval. Brathwaite’s knock, which was decorated with eight massive sixes and five fours off 56 balls, followed his performance the previous day against Banks, a 36-ball 60 that was studded with four sixes and five fours, and another knock of 60 off 29 balls, with four threes and nine fours at Bank Hallin the fourth series. There can definitely be no harm in adding Brathwaite and some others to thetraining squad. The Empire pair of Roston Chase and Kevin Stoute continue to impress, but encouraging performances have also come from some unheralded young cricketers who have caught the eye. I particularly like the looks of Craig St Hill and Aaron Jones of Barbados Youth, as well as Shai Hope and Jamal Phillips of Pickwick. There are also three left-arm swing bowlers who I think are worthy of selection. They are Renair Mayers of Melrose, Michael Holder of St Catherine’s and Jerome Jones of Barbados Youth. I’m tempted to name someone else, but I may be accused of nepotism, so I will allow his performances to speak for themselves and hope they won’t go unnoticed by the selectors. It has always been my view that the best performing cricketers should be representing Barbados regardless of their club, school or parish. Experience has shown that the more T20 cricket matches you play, the better you get at mastering the format because of the changing situations that may confront a player. Even captains and coaches become more adept in their decision-making. Is there anything wrong with staging five or six trial matches? Or, if the selectors are so incensed by the name “trial”, maybe they can call them tune-up, warm-up or even practice matches. These matches could be played as double headers next Tuesday, November 20, and Thursday, November 22, starting at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.at Kensington Oval. Then, the fifth and sixth games could be played on Tuesday, November 27, at the same venue, before the LIME Pelican Football Challenge final on Independence Day and the Hennessey Artistry reggae show on December 1. Afterwards, the final squad and reserve players could be chosen so that they will have the entire December for specialized training and simulating match situations, with a few days’ break for the Christmas holidays. Of course, a few more warm-up matches could then be played in late December or early January, either against local opposition or against BCA-invited teams from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago or the Windward Islands. Failing that, the Barbados squad could journey to oneof these territories to playa couple of tune-up games as Trinidad and Tobago have been doing.