Phase One of this year’s version of the Caribbean T20 cricket competition has just concluded and if the truth be told, especially coming after West Indies’ triumph in the recent World T20 and ahead of the much anticipated 2014 Verus International Caribbean T20 tournament, it has been a colossal disappointment and nothing short of a farce. Not a single young player has yet seized on the ample opportunity and emerged as a promising talent poised to burst unto the international stage in this burgeoning format of the game.
Admittedly the slow low pitches at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago have not been conducive to typical bright T20 cricket but one could not help but notice the woeful lack of application by seasoned regional batters as they succumbed to a surfeit of soft dismissals, usually as a result of poor shot selection, a lack of patience, or drawn by some apparent magnetism to the ubiquitous unnecessary suicidal slog.
Not surprisingly, this poor team batting performance across the board has produced a plethora of low scores with only six tallies of over 120 in 24 innings so far – three by favored home team Trinidad and Tobago with internationally acclaimed players like the Bravo brothers, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, and Dinesh Ramdin. Guyana has produced one innings of 160 for 8 to overhaul Combined Campuses and Colleges 159 for 3 in a last ball thriller and the Windward Islands managed 129 for 7, ultimately defeating CCC by 42 runs.
So disastrous has been the batting overall in the tournament that Leeward Islands having done all of the hard work of tying Jamaica’s 110 for 8 at 110 for 5 in their match, proceeded to score just two runs in the ensuing deciding super over, and in another match CCC’s 21-year-old left-arm spinner Derone Davis captured a unique hat-trick in the first three balls of the Barbados innings, dismissing skipper Dwayne Smith, Ryan Hinds, and Sharmarh Brooks, as they ended on 99 for 9 in reply to Combined Campus’s 111 for 8. Guyana favored by some pundits in the Caribbean as a team with a chance of winning this tournament and thus completing book end victories having won the inaugural competition two years ago, have not exactly covered themselves with glory despite winning two of their three matches so far. They have suffered a lack of fire power in the batting department with only Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Narsingh Deonarine so far providing any real spark, with virtually nothing from former West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan who has scored eight, two, and one in his three appearances.
And for some time now in the Guyana camp there has been a dearth of significant scoring from their so-called second tier batters like Trevon Griffith, Jonathan Foo, Chris Barnwell, Derwin Christian, Stephen Jacobs and others. These players though not international stars, have experienced sufficient regional competition to manifest some measure of maturity and take responsibility for the team’s well-being.
Whether it is the coaching that has impacted on the poor batting technique and much of the out cricket that has been displayed thus far, or the absence of cerebral application to the overall task perhaps due to the controversy around Guyana’s cricket of late, or a loss of focus on the part of some players, the team’s brain thrust must be proactive in effecting a turnaround of their fortunes. Although their decision to give Trinidad and Tobago first strike in the match on Saturday night brings into question their judgement, there is still time for redemption. Guyana is, however, in with an even chance of securing a place in the finals of this tournament, having two winnable matches on the cards in St. Lucia this week against Jamaica on Tuesday and Leewards on Thursday. It is critical that every member of the team takes responsibility and lifts every aspect of their game and that the inveterate Chanderpaul and Deonarine continue to take control. Also key to the success of this team would be a much improved performance from spinners captain Verasammy Permaul and Davendra Bishoo. As for the tournament overall the wish is for better pitches and playing conditions in St. Lucia, and the hope is that this leads to better cricket in general.