YEARS ago when the cinemas were in operation here in Guyana, we would watch kung-fu movies and always here the phrase in some of them that says, “Only a ninja can kill a ninja”, at some point in time of the movie, especially in the depth.Last Saturday night at the Queen’s Park Oval, one could say without hesitation and in slight comparison, ‘Only a Bajan can kill a Bajan,’ after Barbadian all-rounder Raymon Reifer piloted his adopted team the Guyana Jaguars to a sensational and breathtaking two-wicket victory over defending champions Barbados Pride.
Guyana Jaguars, who had defeated Windward Islands Volcanoes by 142 runs in their first round match, lost the toss and saw the Barbadians on the back of Kraigg Brathwaite’s 73 and an unbeaten 37 from the veteran Ryan Hinds, post 168 for 4 off their 36 overs.
In their turn at the wicket, the Jaguars, who with the eventual win have booked a place in the semifinals, were coasting at 73 for 3, when disaster struck and they lost four quick wickets to be 77 for 7, before Reifer and Veerasammy Permaul added 51 for the eighth wicket, followed by Reifer and Devendra Bishoo’s unbroken 41-run ninth-wicket stand that steered the Jaguars to victory.
No doubt, the victory would have been a sweet revenge for the Jaguars, who in last year’s tournament suffered a humiliating seven-wicket loss to Barbados in the semifinals after being flu-stricken, followed by a demoralising two-run loss in their third round WICB Regional four-day encounter last November at the Guyana National Stadium, when chasing a paltry 69 to register an outright win.
In an invited comment with West Indies media after the game, which is being contested as part of the West Indies Cricket Board/NAGICO Super50 tournament, Reifer said it was a bit of hard work to steer the team home after the dramatic collapse, but he stuck to the task well and got the win.
“It was a bit of hard work, but I put my head down and backed myself to bring home the game and that is what happened in the end.
Knowing the Barbadian players and what they can do motivated me a lot, but at the end of the day, this is franchise cricket and whichever team I am chosen to play for whether it is Barbados, Guyana, Windward Islands or even Jamaica, I will come out and put my best foot forward.”
The 23-year-old Reifer is no stranger to franchise cricket so to speak, for even though he was born into a Barbadian family that is rich in cricket with such names as his uncle Leslie Reifer and cousin in former West Indies skipper Floyd Reifer in its history, he has never played for the Land of the Flying Fish.
His stint in regional cricket prior to last November when he made his debut for the Guyana Jaguars, was done with the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), who strangely enough are the Jaguars third and final preliminary-round opponents in today’s Group ‘A’ action of the tournament.
“I never had a chance to play for Barbados as yet, but at least I got a chance to play first class cricket and I am looking to take things from here gradually, one day at a time, grabbing all the opportunities I get to play for the West Indies one day.
“It was a bit hard at first going to Guyana in comparison to Barbados, the wickets are a lot different with a lot more spin and stuff, but it challenged me to get better and I am happy for the experience and I will continue to work hard and be more mature,” said Reifer.
He intends to cherish his performance in that encounter, not because he got his highest score in this format, but due to the fact that he won the game for his team, saying: “If you wish to play at the highest level, you need to start doing things like these at this level from now and the transition will be easy at the top when you get there.
“You cannot go up there not performing at this level, so you have to practise it from this level and like I said when you get up there the transition will be easy to make.”
Reflecting on the mix-up that ended in his skipper Christopher Barnwell being run-out, Reifer said neither batsman should take the blame but rather urged the team to go back to the drawing board and work on the running in-between the wickets, since it plagued the team in the first game as well.
“We need to sort out the running between the wickets and judging the singles more. Other than that, the guys are gelling together well, we are enjoying every single moment with each other, believing in ourselves and backing ourselves to come out on top in good and bad times,” stated Reifer.
With two wins from two matches, including taking a bonus point from their encounter against the Volcanoes, the Jaguars are topping the points chart in Group ‘A’ with 9 points and are virtually into the semifinals, irrespective of the outcome of their game against CCC this afternoon.
(By Calvin Roberts)