The future of our cricket looks encouraging
Guyana was given a thorough hiding by Trinidad in the finals, but under the conditions and considering form during the tournament this was not an altogether surprising conclusion.
From an administrative perspective it is utterly unbelievable that a team had to play three high-profile matches, including the finals, in three consecutive days while the other team had over four days rest.
Guyana gave of their best in the two preceding matches but it was expecting too much for them to have enough energy to play a third high-profile game in three days. Their patchy form, especially from their leading batsmen, throughout the tournament meant that it was always going to be an uphill task for them to win the competition. The logistical congestion in the lead-up to finals did not help either and the authorities need to sit and review this if they are to have two teams competing in the finals on equal ground.
From a regional perspective there are many positives to take from the tournament in terms of player performance.
From a batting perspective, the form of Gayle who was having a torrid time previous to his participation in the regional competition is a major positive. He is a key player for us and seeing him back in form gave great optimism for our upcoming tour to Australia. His form is key to guiding our young batting team, especially Kieran Powell who struggled in this tournament without actually looking out of form. The batting of Darren Bravo also was cause for praise. His class and talent were never in doubt but it was pleasing to see him perform on a consistent basis. His clean cultured power hitting was also another pleasing aspect of his cricket which came to the fore. The batting form of our key all-rounders, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Pollard also augurs well for the immediate future. It seems that they are now showing consistency in their cricket.
Another major positive to come out of this tournament was the re-emergence of Christopher Barnwell as an all-round cricketer of high quality. His bowling, which was previously highly underrated, showed real quality. It is difficult to produce another player who seamed and swung the new ball as much as Barnwell. His batting achieved greater consistency to such an extent that he was arguably our best top order batsman. It was encouraging to see that his batting, which is based on power rather than finesse, also had a technical competence to it which was showcased during his heroic innings against Jamaica where he went about chasing that mammoth total by playing orthodox cricketing shots. Barnwell, more than any other player during this tournament, deserves a recall to the W/Indies team and must be considered the best fast-medium all-rounder in the Caribbean – arguably better than both Sammy and Dwayne Bravo – on present form.
The down side of the batting performances must be the form of our own Sarwan and Deonarine. Sarwan, especially, looked completely out of sync with cricket. His batting looked clueless, none moreso than when he batted against the Windward Islands and looked like getting himself out, either through a run-out or otherwise, off almost every delivery he faced. Even in the field his demeanour was one of a player who was not fully focused on cricket. The sitter that he dropped against the Windwards plus the commentators’ snide remarks that every time a ball goes to Sarwan there are two runs, points to a distraction from cricket. It was a pathetic performance from one of our most highly rated West Indian players, and one wonders whether he is in the mental frame of mind to return to international cricket.
Deonarine, likewise, had much to gain from a masterful performance since there is a vacancy in the W/Indies team for a batsman to replace the injured Samuels. He, like Sarwan, is a pale shadow of himself.
On the pace bowling side there is much to be highly optimistic about. A number of bowlers, all in excess of 6΄ and carrying the requisite physiques, performed encouragingly on wickets that were not conducive to fast bowling. In terms of pace the frontline players were Shannon Gabriel (6’5”), Ronsford Beaton (6’2”) – who until a fortnight ago was a relative unknown – and Sheldon Cotterell ( 6’ 2”). There was real pace and aggression in these bowlers. All three of these players should make the senior W/Indies team in the near future and if/when they do it will be a mouthwatering experience. There were also encouraging performances from Jason Holder (6’8”), Delorn Johnson (6’4”) and Carlos Braithwaithe (6’3”).
There was not much improvement in the spin department. A number of spinners played the containment role for their teams and were economical, but none looked to be of international quality. Bishoo showed glimpses of his old self and was the only frontline spinner who can lay claim to gaining wickets through genuine spin bowling. The googly that bowled Devon Smith was pure class. He still turns the ball a long way and showed good variation and should be given encouragement by the selectors, for he is too much of a quality player to be allowed to rot away. The less said about Permaul the better. But he is only 23 years old and definitely one for the future. His confidence must have taken a battering during this tournament, but the selectors must know that he is one for the future and give him the necessary encouragement.
So as the T-20 tournament concludes, a number of players reinforced their reputations, others began creating a name for themselves, some found redemption while others lost their plot. It was a great experience to watch our players live. If only the providers could have included the speed gun for us to assess the speed of some of our young pacers. All in all we can say that the future of our cricket looks encouraging.