CLOSE to ten years ago, the Shivnarine Chanderpaul-led Guyana team defeated Barbados by the Duckworth/Lewis Method in fading light at the Georgetown Cricket Club ground, to lift the West Indies Cricket Board/KFC Regional 50 overs championship.
Yesterday morning, Guyana Cricket Board president Drubahadur, met the NAGICO Super50 Guyana Jaguars team, which also includes the 40-year-old Chanderpaul, at the Windjammer Hotel, prior to their departure for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, to bid them farewell as they leave to compete in the WICB/Professional Cricket League/NAGICO Super50 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.
In his address to the team, Drubahadur cautioned them not to be complacent at any point in the competition.
“Guyana Jaguars team is a balanced, strong, talented and reliable one; they can destroy any team, but it is important not to take that for granted. I know you are confident which is good but stay focused on each ball of every match and do not underestimate any player or any team you are competing against.”
Drubahadur reminded the players that Guyana under Barnwell’s captaincy started off this format strongly last year but faded away and lost in the semi-final to eventual champions Barbados and stressed that if they start on top again, it is essential that they do not become over-confident and get carried away.
He informed the bunch of players including former Windies spin pair Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo along with ‘A’ team fast bowler Ronsford Beaton, if they are not victorious in their opening match, they have to believe in themselves, regroup, and correct what they did wrong and continue to fight.
He stated that the GCB has high expectations of the team and fully supports them, adding that he believes the entire Guyana is rallying behind the team as well. He took the opportunity to welcome the hard-hitting Jonathan Foo back to the national squad and wished him a successful tournament.
Drubahadur extended on behalf of all Guyana, congratulations to Vishaul Singh on his debut to the limited overs version for Guyana, noting that he has been one of the success stories of cricket in Guyana lately and challenged Singh to stay focused and mark his place in this format of the game as well.
Meanwhile, Chronicle Sport caught up with Barnwell, at the airport to enquire about the camaraderie within the team prior to departure, along with his expectations for the tournament, especially since the Jaguars are placed in what many say is the group of death.
“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 Guyana all-rounder who celebrated his 28th birthday during the encampment period, said the composition of the team is a good one, even though the team that lost in the semifinals to Barbados in last year’s tournament 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 25 at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Guyana Jaguars are in Group A alongside the defending champions Barbados Pride, Windward Islands Volcanoes and Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), with their first game being a day/night affair against the Volcanoes at the picturesque Queen’s Park Oval tomorrow.
Quizzed on their group opponents, a smiling Barnwell said, “No group is easy as everybody is looking to play good cricket and lift the trophy. At the end of the day, there can only be one winner and once we play to our strengths and do so as a unit, then it would be lovely to bring the trophy back to Guyana.”
He added, “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 a while 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.”
The 14-man Guyana Jaguars team: Trevon Griffith, Rajendra Chandrika, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Barnwell (captain), Jonathan Foo, Steven Jacobs, Royston Crandon, Raymon Reifer, Anthony Bramble, Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Paul Wintz, Vishaul Singh and Ronsford Beaton. Esaun Crandon (head coach), Rayon Griffith (assistant coach/manager)
(By Calvin Roberts)