Amid the cricket imbroglio here, the Guyana team is currently in fourth place on 24 points in the seven-team league of the 2011/12 regional first-class season and coach Esaun Crandon is full of praise for the leading batsmen and hoping that his side can improve.
Defending champions Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados are the three teams above them.
Guyana is scheduled to play two more group games in Barbados and Trinidad from March 9 – 12 and March 16 – 19.
However, following the recent interim injunction restraining some 13 executive members of the Guyana Cricket Board from functioning, the team is in a quandary as to whether they will be able to participate in those matches since the WICB has made it clear that they do not accept what the Interim Management Committee established by the government is doing in Guyana.
Stabroek Sport caught up with the Guyana coach Crandon and he reflected on the team’s performances in the opening four games of the season while touching briefly on the current impasse in local cricket that is clouding the future of the nation’s cricketers.
The 30-year-old Crandon played 38 first class matches for the national team from 2000-2011. He was selected by the GCB to coach the national side for the first time during this regional tournament based on his credentials as a Level Two England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) qualified coach and his obvious close links with the current team as a former player.
When first asked how he has enjoyed the baptism of coaching at this level so far, he said: “I have enjoyed every moment of it so far. I thought the team played well in general in the first four games and to come away with 24 points on the road is a solid effort in my view, since in recent years on the road we have tended to struggle to accumulate that many points in our early matches away from home.”
Due to the absence of Captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul with his commitments in the Bangladesh league the selectors entrusted the captaincy to 22-year-old left arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul.
“I think he has done a fairly good job so far. Obviously we have a lot of senior guys in the team that have done the job before at youth level for their clubs and for their counties, even if they have not done it at regional level as yet. But I’ve regularly told the players to try and be captains on the field to not only help Veerasammy if needed, but also as a way to improve their analytical skills on the field of play,” Crandon stated.
Coming into this season Guyana’s record at the regional four-day level was very ordinary. In a larger context dating back to the 2007/08 season, Guyana had managed to win just two out of their 31 first class matches. Both of those wins came versus the Leeward Islands firstly in 2007/08 when Ramnaresh Sarwan warmed up for the home test against Sri Lanka with an even innings of 150 to lead Guyana to an innings and 29 run win.
Then in 2009/10, an unbeaten innings of 105 and 32 from the legendary Chanderpaul propelled the side to a five-wicket victory.
Guyana had not beaten the regional big boys of Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados in years and the rise of the Windward Islands under Darren Sammy has sort of pushed the once dominant Amazon Conquerors down the ladder as one the major teams in the Caribbean in this format.
Beating the Leewards again this season along with the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) before the Windwards and Jamaica toppled them, in many ways reinforced this belief.
In addressing this issue Crandon accepted that it was a problem, but cited positive aspects from the two defeats.
“I think versus Jamaica we shouldn’t have lost outright. We should have held out for a draw, but unfortunately our second innings batting performance was not up to scratch. With the ball we were not patient enough, the bowlers bowled two sides of the wicket – one session we were good then the next session we lost it,” Crandon recalled.
He stated further: “For us to allow a very defensive batsman like Brendan Nash to score a hundred plus in a day’s play pretty much proves how the team lapsed as a bowling unit. But overall I don’t think it’s a clear case of teams like Jamaica and Windwards being better than us though as some may say, in the Windwards game it really could have gone either way if we batted better in the first innings since we recovered well in that match and if they had to chase 250 in the fourth innings you never know how things may have played out, given we had them five down chasing 180 with their last batting pair at the crease. However I take nothing away from Jamaica – they played like champions.
One of the clear big pluses in Guyana’s opening four games has been the batting of the left-handed trio of Assad Fudadin, Narsingh Deonarine and Leon Johnson. With aggregates of 344 runs at 49.14, 353 runs at 44.12 and 287 runs at 35.87 all are among the top five leading run scorers of the 2011/12 season thus far with Deonarine being in the lead.
And Coach Crandon was very appreciative of their efforts so far.
“Definitely they have done a great job for us in the middle order, they have put together a good partnership in basically all the matches. My only slight critique of Narsingh was that after scoring a few of those half centuries, he threw it away with bad shots. Johnson for me was the unluckiest since I thought he got out to top deliveries in every game – no bad shots. Fudadin was the most patient of the group and getting his first century was a great moment for him. I believe he made a call back home to his relatives, think it’s the best I’ve seen him bat in a long time”
The coach also said that they were happy to have Sarwan back in the dressing room and noted some minor issues with the pink ball and playing under lights such as lack of swing compared to the red ball, batsmen complaining about picking it up late, and the preference to have only one session under lights instead.
Finally when asked how the team is coping with the worrying situation at the administrative level with the possibility they may be prevented from playing further in the competition, Crandon was cognizant of this and hoped a positive decision can be made in the interest of the players.
“We were supposed to play these matches at home first, but we went away and now to come back to the same issues is very disappointing. Those who have done well have spoken to me and have cited concerns about what is going to happen next. So right now we are just hoping for the best so that at the end of the day cricket will be the winner.”