Sarwan named Cricketer-of-the-Year at GCB Awards ceremony

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… Deonarine, Dowlin also honoured
NATIONAL captain and West Indies middle-order batsman 29-year-old Ramnaresh Sarwan was on Tuesday night named the Cricketer-of-the-Year, when the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) held its annual awards ceremony at the Umana Yana.

Also receiving awards at the ceremony, where Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Dr Ernest Hilaire was the guest speaker, were fellow West Indies batsmen, Narsingh Deonarine (Senior Regional Cricketer-of-the-Year) and Travis Dowlin on his selection to the Regional team.

But it was Ronnie’s feat on the field of play for the West Indies during the year that enabled him to cart off the prestigious award.

Silken and with more than a healthy enough serving of class in his strokes, Sarwan is a sometimes indispensable cog in the West Indies wheel in the middle order and his innings in the home series against England earlier this year confirmed this.

After scoring 94 in the first innings of the third Test at St John’s in Antigua, he made amends with his 13th Test century in the second innings as the West Indies, who were set 530 to complete their second win of the series, drew the match. They finished on 370-9.

Prior to the fourth Test of that series, the nimble, chaplinesque right-hander who was brought up on the Island of Wakenaam in the Essequibo River, had a top score of 261 not out against Bangladesh five years ago.

But the English felt the brunt of his Gray Nicholls-sponsored Predator bat, when he plundered 30 fours and two sixes in his 291 at the newly constructed Kensington Oval in Barbados, which enabled the home team to draw the match and take the Wisden Trophy.

But he had not yet finished, as he continued his fine form with an even ton in the second Test of the return series in England at Chester-le-Street, though he could not prevent the hosts from winning the match by an innings and 83 runs inside three days.

Unlike Sarwan, Deonarine displayed consistent form with the bat for Guyana in Regional competitions, where he became the first batsman to score over 1 000 runs (1 068) in a WICB first class season, even though Guyana ended in the cellar position earlier this year.

Having set his sights on 600 runs prior to the team’s departure for their first four games which were played away, Deonarine had reached close to 500 after same and decided to reset himself a target of 800, which was also easily achieved, hence the 1 000-run mark.

He scored a mere two centuries with a career-best 198 against the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) at the world renowned Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground, Bourda, along with seven half-centuries with an average of 59.33.

There are many similarities between Deonarine and his mentor Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who was fortunate enough to collect the said award for the past two years. Both of them came through the cricket system in Guyana and are noted for their sharp fielding at cover-point as well as wearing anti-glare patches under their eyes.

Deonarine was under a cloud when it comes to recognition, until his match-winning six in the inaugural Stanford 20/20 tournament in 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago which netted Guyana a whopping US$1M as the first prize along with a trophy and rings for the individual players.

The left-handed Deonarine is averaging 29.57 from just five Test matches in which he has scored 207 runs with a highest score of 82, while his first class average from the 78 matches he has played, scoring 4 377 runs inclusive of six centuries and 29 half-centuries and a highest score of 198, is 37.41.

Dowlin became Guyana’s latest Test player when he was thrust into the side belatedly and unexpectedly, following the strike by the senior players before the first Test of the home series against Bangladesh. His returns in the Regional first class season where he finished second to Deonarine with 580 runs backed his inclusion.

After four Test matches, he has an average of 41.00 following an aggregated 328 runs, including three half-centuries and a highest score of 95, while his first class average reads 30.35 from 78 matches in which he scored 3 642 with four centuries and 23 half-centuries – his highest score being 176.

Being described as a scab player by some but a find for West Indies cricket to many, Dowlin, who represented the West Indies ‘A’ and Stanford Superstars team prior to his Test debut, narrowly missed out on a maiden Test century against Bangladesh in Grenada when he fell for 95.

Also receiving awards were Assad Fudadin and Royston Crandon for being the Senior Domestic player and the Most Improved player of the year respectively, while West Indies Under-19 opener Trevon Griffith received two awards for Junior Cricketer-of-the-Year and Best Youth batsman.

Female West Indies players Tremayne Smartt and Shemaine Campbell were dubbed the women’s Senior and Junior Cricketer-of-the-Year respectively, with Campbell joining Griffith as the lone individuals to uplift double awards, when she belatedly received the Most Promising female cricketer award.

Individual awards were given to former vice presidents of the GCB Alvin Johnson and Malcolm Peters, secretary Bishwa Panday, Anil Beharry and Lennox Hunte for their outstanding contribution to cricket as administrators of the game.

The University of Guyana (UG) Professor Winston McGowan, Berbice’s Rohan Chandan and off the field entertainer Joseph Taylor were also recognised for their sterling contributions to the game, while Jonathan Foo (Best Youth fielder) and Keon Joseph (Best Youth bowler) all received trophies for their efforts.

Prior to the distribution of the various awards, the audience that included Marketing Executive of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) Wystan Robertson, president of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K. Juman-Yassin and Chairman of Banks DIH Limited Clifford Reis heard brief remarks from president of the GCB Chetram Singh and Minister of Sport Dr Frank Anthony.