Guyana Jaguars Assistant Coach Rayon Griffith said selecting the right team for this year’s West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional 4-Day tournament was a tough process, but he believes the defending champs have the players who know how to win titles.
Speaking on the eve of the Guyana/Jamaica Scorpions clash set for the Providence Stadium, today at 9:30hrs, Griffith told Stabroek Sport during a pre-match interview yesterday that picking the right players was challenging since numerous other players have been knocking on the door.
“It was a hard decision to select our team because I think it’s one of the toughest teams ever to be selected for Guyana, but the decisions were made and I know this is the best group, because we wanted guys who know how to perform and have experience in winning titles”.
Griffith who is also the current West Indies A assistant coach, said having seen some of the players from both sides during the recent A series against Sri Lanka, he believes that Guyana, despite being in good all-round form, will have to be watchful of their opponents.
“Most of the guys have been playing cricket and from what I have seen, they seem to be looking fine. I think all the batsmen have looked up to par, and there’s nothing better than having match practice, and our guys are definitely not short of match preparation”.
He continued, “Vishaul (Singh) is in good form from the Sri Lanka A series, and young Shimron Hetmyer has also been in good form. Chandrika [Rajendra] did alright in the A series too, but I would just like to see him go on and get three figures soon.”
Regarding some of the Scorpion players who Griffith would have been looking at first hand as coach of the West Indies A team, the former Guyana pacer is expecting equally good performances from the opposition over the next four days.
“Coming up against Jamaica, they are a good team, they might not have been at their best during the past few years, but they have a few good players like opener John Campbell, spinner Damion Jacobs, their Captain Nikita Miller has been around a while, but we are ready, and we would be expecting good competition”, declared Griffith.
Having retained nearly all their top tier players from the previous season, Guyana will bank heavily on the batting department which features; skipper Leon Johnson, Singh, Chandrika, Hetmyer, Anthony Bramble, Raymon Reifer, Chris Barnwell and others who have been the
core of the Jags batting unit in recent times.
One special player who Griffith said he was more than delighted to have the services of, was veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul whose presence is so invaluable that he said his role as a batsman in the team will be coupled with that of a batting consultant to the younger players.
“Having Shiv around is always important, because all the batsmen are not fully experienced, so Shiv helps to bring out the best in our batters, and he will be helping us as a batting consultant outside of his playing role.”
Speaking about the other strength of the Jags, the bowling department which has been steamrolling sides over the past two years, Griffith stuck with his belief that once his batsmen lay the platform, his bowlers have shown before that they can take 20 wickets in a game.
“As long as the batters make runs, the bowlers will do the rest because we have bowlers like Veerasammy [Permaul] who bowled well in Sri Lanka. I saw him [Permaul] with my own eyes, he’s in good form, also young [Gudakesh] Motie, Keon Joseph have been playing well in Sri Lanka, while we also have two good all-rounders in [Raymon] Reifer and [Chris] Barnwell.
Concluding his interview, Griffith said that he was happy with the current level of his team and credits the Cricket Guyana Inc. (CGI) for putting in place measures to ensure that Guyana has a larger pool of players, as in comparison to in the past when they were limited to rotating a small number of cricketers.
He concluded, “In all, we are ready to go out and defend our title, the most important thing is the mindset of the team, and we [the coaches] are talking with the players to ensure that we remain positive during the competition.”