NOT SINCE Shivnarine Chanderpaul led Guyana to the West Indies Cricket Board/KFC Cup back in 2005 have Guyana ever won a regional limited overs title, even though they advanced to the final four of the 2006 and 2007 tournaments but failed to reach that far in the 2008 and 2009 tournaments.
Last year when they competed in the inaugural WICB/NAGICO Super50 tournament under the captaincy of Christopher Barnwell, the team known as Malta Supreme Guyana reached the semifinals and faced Barbados, where they suffered a seven-wicket defeat.
However, the Rayon Griffith-steward Cricket Guyana Inc. (CGI) selection committee has put together what can be described as the best possible team, taking into consideration the availability of key players, to contest this year’s WICB/Professional Cricket League NAGICO Super50 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago from January 15 to 25.
Eight teams will do battle for supremacy out of two groups, with the Guyana Jaguars being placed in Group ‘A’ where they will face off with defending champions Barbados Pride, Windward Islands Volcanoes and Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC).
The Guyana Jaguars will take on all three teams on various dates in the preliminary round when the action bowls off, with the Volcanoes being their first at the picturesque Queen’s Park Oval on January 15.
Chronicle Sport caught up with Barnwell, the appointed skipper of the Guyana Jaguars, and head coach Esaun Crandon after another intense practice session in sweltering heat at the Everest Cricket Club ground yesterday and both were happy with the results from the preparations to date.
“Coming off the Christmas break, the team has been doing well as a unit, enjoying each other in the nets which is competitive, while we all enjoyed our fitness sessions showing remarkable improvements in some areas and we are eager and ready to go out there and showcase out talent,” said Barnwell.
The discarded West Indies T20 all-rounder who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, said the composition of the team is a good one, even though the team that lost in the semifinals to Barbados was more experienced.
“That team last year obviously was a more experienced one. We had players like Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Leon Johnson, Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin, who all have West Indies experience at various levels.
“This year we are missing four senior players for some reason or the other, but at the same time it creates the opportunity for a younger player to step up and showcase his talent and I feel we have a very good team who can go one step further than last year and if possible win the tournament.”
Quizzed on whether there are any weak areas, Barnwell said it is difficult to point out such now, but once the players know their roles and go out there and perform, then the Jaguars can cage their opponents and lift the title on January 24.
On a personal level, Barnwell said he is looking to capitalise on the present form he is showing with both the bat and ball, converting his starts into a decent score and even triple figures, since it will be his duty to lead from the front.
“I don’t wish to put any burden on any player, we all are capable players in our own right, knowing what is expected of us and what we have to do to be victorious. I myself will be looking to get a start and convert that into a three-figure total, in the interest of the team.
“It has been awhile since we won a limited overs tournament, so it will be a pleasure for us to go out there and play positive cricket, continuing from our showing in the Regional four-day tournament where we have been positive despite certain hiccups, play well and come out victorious,” stated Barnwell.
Crandon, who was a member of the victorious 2005 side, expressed similar sentiments, calling on the players to know their roles and execute them on the day in question.
“There is great camaraderie within the team; You can sense it in the training sessions which were very good, with the players showing lots of improvements in certain areas, especially their fitness level which is very high.
“What we are working on now is specific areas for both the bowlers to bowl and even the batsmen, with the bowlers also showing tremendous improvements by putting the balls in the right areas, even as they bowl with variety and we are happy with the results,” said Crandon.
Meanwhile, the teams for today’s practice match will see the Jaguars take on a Vishaul Singh’s XI, which also includes recalled West Indies batsman Narsingh Deonarine, who will act as Singh’s deputy. The game is set to bowl off at 09:30hrs and will be contested at the Everest Cricket Club ground.
The teams are:
Guyana Jaguars – Trevon Griffith, Rajendra Chandrika, Christopher Barnwell (captain), Jonathan Foo, Steven Jacobs, Royston Crandon, Raymond Reifer, Anthony Bramble, Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Paul Wintz, Kemol Savory and Ronsford Beaton.
Vishaul Singh’s XI-Vishaul Singh (captain), Kandasammy Surujnarine, Narsingh Deonarine, Ricardo Adams, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Robin Bacchus, Jason Sinclair, Amir Khan, Kevon Boodie, Keon Joseph, Raun Johnson, Anthony Adams and Gudakesh Motie-Kanhai.
(By Calvin Roberts)