Musical chairs continue with Guyana national team

– Singh and Garraway make way for Crandon and Bishoo
By Calvin Roberts

With a record showing 0-4 in their away matches for this year so far, the senior Guyana cricket team departs these shores this morning for Trinidad and Tobago and then Jamaica with a team that has been playing musical chairs this season, compliments of the selectors.

Once labelled the country’s best youth batsman, Gajanand Singh has found it hard to find favor with the senior selection panel even with an average of 73.00 from the two matches he has played so far, as he is being asked to make way for all rounder Esaun Crandon.

But Singh is not the only one to lose out as the best fast bowler around to date, Trevon Garraway, had to be content with fetching the towels or working on his game at his home club, Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) in the afternoons.
Both replacement players are worthy of their selection in the team, with Crandon being our leading fast bowler with 18 wickets, and Bishoo the leading bowler overall with 26.  And only left arm orthodox spinner Veerasammy Permaul has taken more than 15 wickets in the Guyana team this year.

The question for the selection panel which consists of chairman Claude Raphael, Hubern Evans and Ravindranauth Seeram, who is also the coach, is what are the criteria for selection on the Guyana national team?

In pre-match interviews Seeram, who in his heyday was a very consistent middle order batsman, always emphasized winning, stating that first innings is his first objective, then an outright win.

But the teams selected for the matches only consist of two specialist bowlers in the beanpole, wayward Brandon Bess who takes care of the new ball but hardly uses it to good effect and left arm orthodox spinner Veerasammy Permaul.

Back up bowling comes from the rookie all rounder Christopher Barnwell and off spinner Steven Jacobs, with Narsingh Deonarine who is the best off spinner in the team in the absence of a specialist off spinner, Leon Johnson, Royston Crandon and Sewnarine Chattergoon being called upon to assist.

Now how can this bowling attack take the 20 wickets to give us the victory the coach is seeking?
Bess has been lacking the penetration skipper Travis Dowlin has been seeking from his bowlers, especially with the new ball and with a return of 8-483 from six matches, compared to Garraway’s 6-353 from three matches.

But still, the selectors are persevering with him on the basis of some retainer contract with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Even if that’s the scenario, the WICB needs to know that there is in-house business to be taken care of in the best interest of Guyana’s cricket and Garraway with his swing and control should have retained his place in the travelling 13-man squad.

With regards to Singh, one would be wondering whether or not Raphael and company, especially Evans, is holding some sort of malice against the promising left handed batsman who represented the country with pride and gusto at the under-19 level as recently as two years ago.

In his first match this season, a declaration was made while he was seven runs away from his first half century at this level, and  in his second he threw his wicket away in the interest of the team as he was looking for quick runs to influence a declaration by Dowlin.

But that aside, he is sitting at the top of the averages for Guyana with a healthy 73.00 and only Deonarine (61.64) and Assad Fudadin (54.25) have averages above the 50 mark in a team whose batting has improved in their games at home, despite the loss to the Windward Islands.

Deonarine has taken up the mantle as a senior player in the team by aggregating 863 runs to date, and stands to become the first batsman to score over 1,000 in a WICB first class season having set himself a target of 800 runs at the beginning.

The other senior players in Dowlin (504), Royston Crandon (386) and Johnson (363) have  been enduring some lean times with the bat even though they gotten starts, while  despite having six ducks under his belt, Derwin Christian is ranked at number five in the batting list with an aggregat score of 284 runs from 14 innings, including his maiden first class century.

In fact, only Deonarine (2) and Christian have registered centuries for Guyana this year while Barnwell (227), Fudadin (217) and Bishoo whose total of 134 includes two mature 30 plus innings as a night watchman.

Jacobs claims he is a batsman who is being asked to bowl, but from the four matches he has played so far, he has accumulated 48 runs at an average of 12.00, with a top score of 22 and like Bess, he too is being retained in the squad because of a WICB retainer contract.

But are we going to look at retainer contracts for our players,  although that’s not bad, or try to improve our performance in this year’s tournament which to date reads 9-0-5-0-4 and have us languishing at the bottom of the points table on 24 points.  There is a saying in Guyana, ‘Cut your nose to spoil your face’. Our selectors need to start doing this if they intend to lift the standard of our cricket for a country that is very passionate about the game. It is necessary to see some silverware being brought back to a country that is starving for triumph, having not tasted any since the Stanford 20/20 victory in 2006.

The travelling 13-man squad for the two remaining away games against T&T and Jamaica reads: Travis Dowlin, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Christopher Barnwell, Leon Johnson, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Royston Crandon, Steven Jacobs, Derwin Christian, Esaun Crandon, Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Brandon Bess, Ravindranauth Seeram (coach) and Carl Moore (manager).

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