Guyana Jaguars Assistant Coach/Manager Rayon Griffith credited the improved fitness level among the players as one of the main reasons for the team’s success thus far in the ongoing Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional Four Day tournament.
Griffith, during an interview with Stabroek Sport, said he knew the consistent training among the players which began some two weeks after they reclaimed the regional 4-day title last season, was pivotal in building a mentally and physically stronger team which comprehensively won their first three matches at home against Windwards, Leewards and Barbados.
“We restarted training two weeks after the season ended and we did a lot of gym work, training as a team and family. Definitely the players have gotten better but we still have work to do,” he said. Speaking about how the weekly training sessions have helped the players with their batting and bowling in the first three rounds, Griffith said he was happy to see the bowlers, pacer Ronsford Beaton in particular, bowling for longer hours while executing those duties properly.
“In the fast bowling department, the bowlers showed a lot of improvement from last season, and I was especially happy to see young Beaton spending more time on the field and that’s due to the training which helps with concentration because once you’re fit, you will concentrate more when you’re playing on the field,” Griffith declared.
In the fielding department, the players have not met their full potential yet, Griffith said, “but they have been improving in the field. The guys have been diving and throwing their bodies for the ball and that’s due to their good fitness levels.” While mentioning a few of the blemishes the players had during the matches, Griffith asserted that “a few blemishes in matches happen in cricket.”
“The batsmen have also been good so far,” the Assistant/Coach Manager said. “They spent long times batting and while only two people made hundreds so far, we are hoping that the other guys could step up.”
Vishaul “Cheesy” Singh has been the core of the Jags batting, scoring 150 and 121 early in the competition while left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie has been the top bowler so far with 25 wickets in just his three matches and their assistant coach was overwhelmed by the contributions of the two young men.
“Cheesy for a long time, is a batter who spends long periods in the middle,” Griffith said. “But he is still not as strong as he should be but there is lots of room for improvement to get stronger. He has the appetite for runs and this year he means business so I’m happy for him.
“I’m also happy for Motie although it was not a surprise that he is doing well in Regional cricket because looking at him in training and also before, he was putting the
ball in the right areas and West Indies batsmen can’t play spin that well, so it wasn’t a surprise of his performances so far,” he added.
The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Chairman of National Selectors also identified a few other players who have been in the limelight over the past three rounds and credited their commitment as well as their form for the team’s overall success.
“Shiv Chanderpaul is still playing a key role in the team,” Griffith said. “He got a half-century in the second round when we were thirty-odd for three so if we didn’t [have] Shiv who knows what would have happened because his experience played a key role while his presence is invaluable to the youngsters in the side.”
Leon Johnson, Assad Fudadin and all-rounder Steven Jacobs were mentioned as some of the other key players in the team who have been hitting their straps. Griffith said due to the high level of competition in the Guyana team, players have to keep fit and keep performing.
“If you look at the batting line up,” Griffith said, “Jacobs had to bat where he was batting down the order. Having said that, he had always been a smart guy but he needs to be more patient because he’s doing well for the team and himself, and along with Motie he should keep performing well throughout the competition.”
All-rounder Chris Barnwell picked up a back injury before the third round but according to Griffith the hard-hitting right-hander “Is coming around alright and will be ready for the next match against Trinidad.”
In closing, the former national pacer said it is important to keep playing good cricket for the remainder of the season and he knows that the players will improve as they play more matches. “We want to continue playing good cricket, be competitive and stick to the basics but most importantly, work together because if we do that we can go anywhere. Most importantly, I would like to thank the Cricket Guyana Inc (CGI) who have all the 15 contracted and 12 academy players, training competitively and keeping them all together as they build a team for the future,” he said.