If there was one word to describe the Guyana team’s performance in the just-concluded West Indies Cricket Board Regional first-class season that word would me mediocre.
The Guyana four-day and one-day teams failed to reach the semi-finals of both the four-day and Super50 competitions.
They ended the four-day competition third from last with 18 points ahead of only the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) team with 12 points and the Leeward Islands team with seven points.
The team recorded only one win at home in a four-day match against CCC in which they won by 46 runs.
The eventual winner of the four day competition was Barbados which defeated Trinidad and Tobago last weekend.
In the regional Super50 competition the team ended in the penultimate position with eight points ahead of only the Leeward Islands which again occupied the cellar position with four points.
The Super50 competition was won by the Windward Islands who defeated CCC by nine wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis method to secure the title in Bridgetown, Barbados on April 21.
So what exactly were the reasons for the representative teams’ poor showing?
Claude Raphael, former chairman of selectors of the Guyana Cricket Board, lays the blame squarely at the feet of the present Guyana Cricket Board.
“Too much lawlessness has prevailed over cricket and the negative climate has dampened the entire situation in Guyana,” was Raphael’s take.
He added:”Persons in charge of cricket don’t seem to care about the game and players,” he said.
Raphael also feels that the WICB should share some of the blame.
“The WICB has shown it recognizes the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) as a legal entity without analyzing the composition of the “GCB” with regards to its members and individuals elected.
“The failures of the team are mainly due to improper preparation and inexperience from the administrative level downwards which will continue to bring down cricket in the country unless the situation is resolved.”
Guyana team among the strongest
On paper, Guyana possessed to many arguably one of the strongest teams in the competition. The team included as many as six players who at some point of time had donned West Indian colors.
These players included current Captain Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Assad Fudadin, Narsingh Deonarine, Christopher Barnwell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Leon Johnson.
There were also a few players who have had experience playing first-class cricket and High Performance Centre stints.
However the statistics for the Guyana team appear a bit backwards in both formats of the game with the bowlers scoring more runs and averaging more than batsmen. For example, Zaheer Mohamed played two four-day matches, one against Barbados in which he scored 58 in vain and 61 against the Windward Islands another knock in vain.
Mohamed averaged 60.50 and scored 121 runs from just three innings in two games, not bad for a guy who comes in down the order.
Apparently not carrying any injuries after his last game he surprisingly was not selected again but instead he found a place as the team’s water boy.
For a country which has produced some of the greatest batsmen in the World, the team’s batting was abysmal up and down the order especially in the longer version where the top and middle order collapsed and the lower order was routed for fewer than 20 runs on occasions.
Most of the players got starts and threw away their wickets which resulted in Coach Esaun Crandon slamming the batsmen for not having the killer instinct and not being mentally tough.
Leon Johnson’s consistency made him Guyana’s best batsman in both formats. He averaged 35.83 from six matches scoring 430 runs, three half centuries with 87 being the highest score in the longer version.
His other scores were that of 60 against Leewards and 70 in his last match against Jamaica.
In the Super50 competition he scored 204 runs from six matches at an average of 34.00 with one half century 52 against Windward Islands which places him third on the list of run getters.
Unfortunately after being one of the youngest ever to play for Guyana, Johnson is yet to record a century at this level and despite his obvious promise and his consistency this year which shows that he is gradually getting better, time is running out.
Unless Johnson gets to that maiden regional century soon the weight of expectation not to mention the constant criticism could be like an albatross around his neck and could effectively put paid to his chances of playing for the West Indies senior team.
Another problem was the inability of Chris Barnwell to become a regular in the four day team prior to his departure in the middle of the competition to begin his first stint in the Indian premier league (IPL). Barnwell had been in decent form with both bat and ball since his performances at the Regional T20 tournament.
His best show before departing to India was 66 against Trinidad and Tobago in their Super50 encounter and after his departure Steven Jacobs filled the all-rounder spot with maturity and discipline taking wickets consistently while finding himself among the runs in both formats of the game.
He ended his run with an overall total of 315 runs in both formats of the game with a top score of 75. He also grabbed a total of 23 wickets from both formats of the game.
The experienced batting pair of Chanderpaul and Sarwan did not the impact the team and themselves would have liked.
Chanderpaul scored Guyana’s only century of the tournament against Trinidad in the four-day game while Sarwan struggled throughout the tournament managing a few starts but not converting them to substantial totals.
Permaul, who played five matches and Bishoo six, bowled a total of 452.6 overs and had 50 wickets between themselves in the four-day format of the competition while pacer Ronsford Beaton continued from strength to strength in the tournament picking up 16 wickets at an average of 30.43.
Beaton produced his best bowling figures of 6 for 73 against CCC at the Providence National Stadium but lacked support. Paul Wintz, who was not known to have any injury, was reduced to bowling a total of 12 overs in the same match that Beaton picked up his best bowling figures.
The Guyana team managed only one score over 300 achieved during their four-day encounter against Trinidad & Tobago where they scored 330 in 91.4 overs at a run rate of 3.60 thanks mainly to Chanderpaul.
However they still lost that match by 45 runs.
The team’s poor showing overseas was reflected in the poor attendance upon their return home when they battled CCC and Jamaica respectively at the Providence National Stadium.