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GCB to host awards ceremony tonight

..New format to select Main awards

THE UPPER pavilion of the world renowned Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC), will be buzzing with activity from 19:00 hrs tonight, when the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) will, for the first time in two years, host their awards ceremony.West Indies Cricket Board Director and Chairman of their Marketing Committee, Baldath Mahabir, who also heads the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board’s Coaching and Youth Development Committee, will deliver the feature address at the ceremony, one which was last held at the Umana Yana in 2010.
Looking ahead to tonight’s affair, Honorary Secretary of the GCB, Anand Sanasie, in an invited comment with Chronicle Sport yesterday said a nomination process was done to arrive at the Main awards such as the Male and Female Cricketer and of the Year.
“Notices were sent to all the clubs and recipients who were nominated by the Special Committee set up by the GCB to arrive at the winners of the various categories for tonight’s proceedings and, while some of them may not be here for reasons unknown, they were asked to send a representative on their behalf,” said Sanasie.
The Special Committee which is being headed by the GCB’s Marketing Manager, Rajendra Singh, comprises Territorial Development Officer Colin Stuart, the two Chairmen of Selectors in Nazimul Drepaul and Rayon Griffith and Savitri Persaud, the GCB’s Administrator.
Some of the nominees for the Male Cricketer of the Year include dependable West Indies middle order batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul; West Indies ‘A’ team batsman, Leon Johnson; T20 all rounder, Christopher Barnwell; and left arm orthodox spinner, Veerasammy Permaul.
On the distaff side, names such as June Ogle Thomas, Shemaine Campbelle, Tremayne Smartt, Erva Giddings and Sabrina Munroe – all who have West Indies experience – readily come to mind.
While Chanderpaul played his 150th Test match against India less than two weeks ago, the 26 year old Johnson, who led all of Guyana’s batsmen in this year’s WICB Regional four day tournament, stands head and shoulders above the other three players named alongside him above.
The former West Indies Under-19 skipper ended the preliminary phase of the competition as the third highest runscorer with 430 runs from six matches at an average of 35.83, scoring three fifties in the process, with Windward Islands’ Devon Smith (682) and Barbados’ Kraigg Brathwaite (440) occupying the top two positions.
In the Super50 tournament, Johnson, who is averaging 29.65 from the 45 first class matches he has played, from where he accumulated 2,224 runs with a highest score of 144 for West Indies ‘A’ against Sri Lanka ‘A’ last June, also finished the preliminaries as the third leading runscorer with 204 runs from six games at an average of 34.00, with a solitary half-century.
The Windward Islands duo in Andre Fletcher (239) and Smith (222), sat at the top of the run scorers chart leading into the semi-finals of the tournament, which Guyana failed to qualify for, thus decreasing Johnson’s opportunity of scoring more runs.
The experienced Assad Fudadin was Guyana’s next best batsman in the four-day tourney with 289 runs, while fellow left-hander in a pugnacious opener, Trevon Griffith, was the second most productive batsman for Guyana in the Super50 with 152 runs, but would find it hard to be in the mix for the individual award tonight.
Barnwell’s feat on the Regional circuit was exceptional for Guyana, especially in the T20 format, wherein he blasted his way to a pugnacious 88 against Jamaica in the semi-finals of the WICB Caribbean T20 tournament.
He also became the third Guyanese after Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, to be successful at an Indian Premier League (IPL) Auction after being bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) franchise for this year’s tournament, even though he failed to make the final 11.
On the local scene, Barnwell, likewise Johnson have been wielding their Stone Hill sponsored bats with pride for their respective clubs in Demerara Cricket Club and GCC respectively, especially in the Georgetown Cricket Association/Carib Beer first division T20 competition.
The selectors will certainly have their work cut out for them, when the name, Veerasammy Permaul, is being considered for the Male Cricketer of the Year award.
He was elevated to the captaincy of the Guyana team for all the Regional tournaments this year, ahead of Johnson and Barnwell who served as his deputy in the four-day and Super50 tournaments respectively, along with Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
In addition to that, Permaul, who hails from Albion became the country’s latest Test player in October, 2012, after making his first-class debut for Guyana in the 2006-07 Carib Beer Series and picked up four wickets against the Windward Islands and also scalped his first five-for against Jamaica in the KFC Cup.
His breakthrough season came two years later with a haul of 32 wickets at 23.93 in first-class cricket and in 2011-12 he finished the season with his best return of 37 wickets at 22.05, which prompted his call up as a second spinner alongside Sunil Narine for the West Indies tour of Bangladesh, where he made his debut in the first Test at Dhaka, taking four wickets in a West Indies’ victory.
At 39 years of age, Chanderpaul’s feats on the cricket field whether it is for Guyana, West Indies, Lancashire, or even at Unity XI, have never been under the microscope.
His ability to bat for long hours even at the present age, leaves many individuals speechless and while the cricket world was obsessed with Brian Lara’s unquestionable talent, Chanderpaul has shown that there are alternating ways to be consistent and prolific in Test cricket over a long period of time, becoming only the second West Indian and first Guyanese to score 10,000 Test runs and the first to play 150 Test matches.
For the past 19 years, the left-handed Chanderpaul, who possesses the crabbiest technique in world cricket has been the mainstay of the West Indies’s middle order which, for a period of time has been brittle, averaging 51.71 from his 255 Test innings.
He has scored 10,963 runs from those innings with 28 tons and 61 half centuries, with a highest score of 203 not out against South Africa at the GCC ground.
When Chanderpaul started out, he had a couple of problems: first, a low conversion rate of around one ton to every 10 half centuries and secondly, his physical frailty, widely thought to be hypochondria.
That myth was exploded when a large piece of floating bone was removed from his foot late in 2000 and suitably liberated, he set about rectifying his centuries scoring problem, scoring three in four Tests against India in 2001-02, and two more in the home series against Australia the following year, including 104 as West Indies successfully chased a world-record 418 for victory in the final Test in Antigua.

(By Calvin Roberts)

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