After tasting defeat for the first time in nearly two seasons, Guyana Jaguars Assistant Head Coach, Rayon Griffith says the defending champs are more focused than ever on retaining their title and are well-poised heading into today’s third round clash against the Windward Volcanoes.
Round three of the 2016/17 Digicel Profes-sional Cricket League (PCL) 4-Day tournament bowls off this afternoon at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia. Guyana entered this season’s tournament with a streak of 18 consecutive wins ever since their painful third round 2-run loss to Barbados back in the 2014/15 leg of the PCL.
Following that loss, Guyana turned up the heat for the remainder of the competition and eventually went on to win the title for the first time in almost a decade. The Jaguars then dominated the following 2015/16 season as they defended their title before opening the 2016/17 PCL with a thumping win over the Jamaica Scorpions at Providence, Guyana.
However, things took a dramatic turn in the second game when Nkrumah Bonner (82) and Montcin Hodge (114) piloted the Leeward Hurricanes into the regional history books when they ended on 372-6 in pursuit of 368, the highest successful run chase in modern Regional 4-Day cricket.
Attention now shifts to round three which is being played under the new Day/Night format along with the pink ball. Guyana will enter round three with 24 points, trailing the Hurricanes who are in second with 24.2 and table leaders Barbados Pride who have 24.4 points.
Griffith told Stabroek Sport yesterday during a pre-match interview that despite losing their first game in 19 matches, team spirit was still high going into today’s clash.
“We won 18 games in a row and the loss was our first in a long time but the team is still good and we are still looking to successfully defend our title”, said the West Indies ‘A’ Assistant Coach, who added that the overall performances by both teams in round two was great for West Indies cricket.
“Kudos to the Leewards on the win I think it’s not just good for them but good for West Indies cricket, so much credit to them for playing well but as I said Guyana is now more focused on keeping our title”, he said.
The coach said he was indeed aware his team needed to pile up more runs while his batsmen needed to score more hundreds. “We have to put more runs and get hundreds on the board because our batsmen are looking good and the confidence is definitely there”.
Reflecting on the areas of concern following Monday’s loss, Griffith admitted that extra fine-tuning in the fielding and bowling departments was also needed. “The bowlers have been good but they need to be more consistent in their execution of plans because the wickets are flat. We also need to work hard on our fielding as the competition progresses”, said Griffith.
The ex-Guyana pacer was also confident that his team will cope well with the new Day/Night and Pink Ball additions to some of the four-day fixtures this year. “Our next match is Day/Night and we will be using the pink ball which is a bit different from the red ball but I don’t think it will be a problem for our players. Johno (Leon Johnson) played in Sharjah with the pink ball, Rajendra Chandrika, Vishaul Singh, Keon Joseph, Motie (Gudakesh) have all played with the pink ball during the West Indies ‘A’ tournament”, said a confident Griffith.
Griffith also added that the players were further exposed to the pink ball during their two days of training in St Lucia leading up to the game. He said that the team’s makeup for today’s game had not yet been decided and the naming of the final 11 will be done after having a look at the pitch. Today’s Day/ Night match bowls off from 3 pm.