Some nine years after Shivnarine Chanderpaul led them to One-Day title triumph, the national cricket team, under all rounder Christopher Barnwell will be seeking Guyana’s 10th limited overs regional title at month’s end in the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The 2014 NAGICO Super50 tournament, is set to bowl off on January 30 and if anything, the team is expected to do better than their near bottom finish in last year’s tournament.
Theirs is a tall order as they have been placed in the Group of Death along with defending champions the Windwards Islands,
Jamaica and Ireland and their first task will be to qualify at the expense of either Jamaica or the Windwards.
In Zone B Trinidad, the Leeward Islands, Barbados and the Combined Campuses and Colleges team will battle it out.
Although it will take an all round team effort to win the title, cricket fans will be hoping that the return of current West Indies Test batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and former West Indies skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan who did not play the entire tournament last year due to English county commitments, will help the team achieve its goal.
Guyana won the Regional 50-over titles in 1980, 1983, 1985, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2005 being the last year when former West Indies opener Sewnarine Chattergoon scored a match-wining century against Barbados in the KFC Cup final at the GCC ground, Bourda under fading light.
At the end of last year’s 2013 West Indies Cricket Board Regional Super50 competition, Guyana finished in sixth place with eight points.
The national selectors have named some of the most talented cricketers
in the quest to win the tournament but much will depend on the afore mentioned pair of West Indians, who will be the cornerstone of the team in terms of their experience and expertise.
The Guyana squad includes a handful of young and exciting batsmen who have made strong cases for their selection by performances overseas and locally. The team features three specialist openers in West Indies ‘A’ batsman Assad Fudadin along with the aggressive Trevon Griffith and debutant Robin Bacchus.
Fudadin, a former West Indies Test player and currently one of the most consistent scorers in the ‘A’ team, is a key figure in the team’s makeup. Despite having a mixed 2013 Regional tournament with his batting stats reflecting more dominance in the longer format, the 28-year-old remains one of the most patient and compact players in the team and looks well on the path to make right last year’s 50-over stats of 85 runs from five matches after scoring a compact 70 on Monday in the third practice game.
Griffith managed 152 runs from his six matches with a top score of 55 during last year’s Super50 tournament and has been making decent scores locally but will need to knuckle down and focus a bit more. Bacchus earned his national cap last year against Trinidad and Tobago in their two T20 encounters played at the Guyana National Stadium.
He scored 60 at the top of the order and went on to register good scores in the inter-county competitions scoring a few more half-centuries which allowed him to bully his way into the team as a specialist opener. The Guyana middle-order, which is rife with talent and experience, includes arguably the most prolific young batsman in the country, Leon Johnson.
The 2013 male Cricketer-of-the-Year was Guyana’s best batsman in both formats of last year’s tournament, scoring 204 runs from 6 Super50 matches with one half-century and then scoring his maiden first-class ton against Sri Lanka ‘A’ last year during the home series.
He also narrowly missed two more first-class tons against India ‘A’ during the West Indies tour of India. Another talented youngster expected to dominate is West Indies and Guyana T20 all-rounder and national skipper Christopher Barnwell who has been creating nightmares for the bowlers during 2013 and seemed to take his form over into the new year.
The right-hander dominated the local scene in all competitions scoring centuries in the inter-county arena after returning from India in his inaugural IPL stint, while his whirlwind innings of 88 against Jamaica in last year’s Regional T20 tournament etched his named in the limited overs book across the Caribbean.
He also played a vital role for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the inaugural 2013 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) competition. He continued his onslaught with brutal displays of power hitting during the team’s ongoing practice matches.
However, the stronghold of the team’s batting in the middle order undoubtedly lies with Chanderpaul, Sarwan and test player Narsingh Deonarine. Sarwan and Chanderpaul were involved in English county duties during last year’s tournament, resulting in Sarwan appearing in two matches and Chanderpaul one.
Deonarine played two matches as well but scored 60 runs with one half-century, a top score of 51. However, their records across all formats of the game make them the proverbial “big three” of the Guyana side and therefore will be the key players with the bat.
Both Sarwan and Chanderpaul have been striking the ball well during the recent trial matches and will seek to get themselves more polished with three more matches to come. Deonarine has been having a decent series for the West Indies against New Zealand and will seek to return with his form and further reinforce the team’s batting line.
Recently a major blow was dealt to the team when all-rounder Steven Jacobs, who has been an important member of the squad, opted to lead the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) team. Jacobs’s absence means that Fudadin and Deonarine will perform the possible all-rounder duties supplementing Barnwell and the other bowlers.
Led by fast bowler Ronsford Beaton, who was one of the most destructive and effective bowlers during the 2013 Super50 competitions averaging 21.66 with nine wickets from five matches, the bowling department also consists of fast bowler Paul Wintz who was the second leading wicket-taker for Guyana behind Beaton with eight wickets from six matches.
However, the bowling strength lies in the wizardry of Guyana’s two most senior and experienced spinners, Ex-West Indies leg-break bowler Devendra Bishoo and current West Indies Test left-arm orthodox Veerasammy Permaul.
Permaul, who recently returned from New Zealand after the Test series concluded, remains one of the most versatile bowlers in the country and has also shown his worth with the bat. His Super50 stats reflect 3 wickets from three games, but he then dominated the four-day format with 30 wickets from five matches.
Bishoo, who has 60 international wickets to his name, 20 from ODI’s and 40 from Test, has been looking like the force he once was when he made his debut in 2008 after participating in a spin clinic last year conducted by legendary spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. He then destroyed the inter-county scene with multiple hauls of five or more wickets and recently bowled his county Berbice to the inter-county four-day title.
With all the talent and experience in the World and probably one of the better looking teams on paper, Guyana will need to put their goals into one basket ahead of the tournament and play smartly while playing like a team in order to bring the title back to Guyana.
The team is currently encamped until the 25 of January and will play three more practice matches, one this Friday at the Bourda ground followed by two day/night games at the Guyana National Stadium.
After that it’s all up to them.