With 2018 done and dusted, Chairman of the Senior Selection panel of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), Rayon `Gummy’ Griffith has described 2018 as one of the better years for the country’s cricket.
Speaking exclusively with Stabroek News, Griffith said: “This year was a fairly good year for
Guyana’s cricket having had so much players being part of the West Indies set up, winning the Four-Day tournament and reaching the final of the Super50 as well as the Regional Under-19 50 overs and good showings at the Under-17 and Under-15 regional tournaments.”
However, Griffith is eager for the completion of the La Bonne Intention facility, a facility. He opined that is going to catapult Guyana’s cricket to unchartered territory.
He explained that the facility is going to have State-of-the-Art facilities with a sun roof (like the one in New Zealand) to allow natural light in; an in-house physiotherapist, detailed records of players, an academy, an indoor facility and most importantly, at least four pitches that will mirror tracks from different parts of the world and the Caribbean.
Speaking of Guyana’s performance regionally, he explained that the trend of winning the longer format of Regional cricket has continued with the senior team winning the Regional four-day competition four times in a row now.
Of the regional One-Day tournament, Griffith said: “We didn’t win but made it to the final. At least we are somewhere at the top and I believe we have been doing well in cricket in the region in terms of being consistent. Our consistency keeps showing and players have been doing good and getting better.”
This year Guyana has seen players like Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Veerasammy Permaul and Devindra Bishoo representing the West Indies while several other players have made it to the West Indies A and B teams.
“I believe tracking back the players who have been part of West Indies set-up, they have been consistent like many in the Guyana senior team so it is a good year for Guyana cricket,” Griffith opined.
He dove into the junior levels saying: “Even if we look back at the junior level, they have dominating with the Under-19 winning five times in a row and they have been doing good which has been progress for us as they filter to the higher levels. The Under-17 did fairly well too, finishing third, having lost the final round to Barbados and the Under-15 ending the tournament as runners up… the women are also doing well… from this we saw Mavindra Dindyal going on to West Indies Under-16, Sachin Singh, Ashmead Nedd, Kevlon Anderson, Kelvin Umroa, Shebika Gajnabi, Sheneta Grimmond and others all being called to various West Indies training camps so overall I think cricket in Guyana this year is one of the better years.”
On the local front, Griffith said that the GCB 50-overs franchise tournament was enough preparation for the team to finish second in the tournament.
“With the system in the country, there were a lot of local cricket back then and now we don’t play as much but with the franchise set up, men have been preparing themselves on a day-to-day basis.
“We have some smart players who understand how to win. We have a culture in the teams on how to win. They know their roles and it becomes easier and even if players leave for the West Indies and we have to bring in players, the bed is made up smooth.”
Looking at the selection of teams, Griffith explained that a lot of people want to know what the secret for Guyana being so dominant is.
“We always find a way to get a balance and that is something you need to do well. Sometimes you might pick the most talented players but they don’t gel but when you have players that understand their roles, have unity and I would say trust, then it is hard to lose and I think this is our strength.”
The former national player recalled that in meetings they always stress on the importance of finding new talent, emphasizing on the aim of having a pool of at least 50 players to have at the senior level.
He said that they begin looking at talent from as early as the U15s whom they groom into future players.
“Even if we have 11 players going on to West Indies at once, we should have players that could come in and continue winning, we have the talent and the players have the discipline and when you have players willing to do different stuff especially in a set-up like this and have the hunger, it makes coaches lives much easier.”
Apart from the players who have moved on to the Caribbean side, Griffith said Tevin Imlach, Sachin Singh, Kevlon Anderson, Clinton Pestano, and Akshaya Persaud are players he has been happy to see coming through the ranks.
While 2018 has been a winning year for Guyana, Griffith suggested that fielding and batting are areas that need to be improved on, not just in Guyana’s cricket but the Caribbean as a whole.
He was obstinate about the need to have more bowlers in the pool and said that there is a need for more fast bowlers in Guyana as well as more wrist spinners and leg break bowlers.
He said Shawn Pereira has been one of the talented leg spinners who has been consistent and is a good leader.
“Bowlers need to start challenging themselves to do different things and so as to make the outcome much better.
“Bowlers tend to sit in their comfort zone and just move along, sometimes you need to come off and try different things,” the West Indies A assistant coach said.
Setting goals for the new year, Griffith said he is keen Guyana becoming number at all levels of Caribbean cricket and by extension having more players getting into West Indies teams.
Veerasammy Permaul, Leon Johnson, Vishaul Singh and Keon Joseph are players Griffith is backing to making it to the West Indies senior team.
“My goal is to go out there and see more talent around the country. I believe there are talented players all around the country but we don’t get the opportunity to go around the country and see them but this year definitely I will want to and the board wants us to go around and help move cricket forward.”