Chairman of selectors for the national cricket team, Rayon Griffith, has emphasized the importance of fitness and the inclusion of players who are regarded as 50 overs ‘specialists’ as key elements to the Guyana Jaguars limited overs run.
While the Jaguars continue to dominate the Regional four-day tournament having won that title on four consecutive occasions, the one-day championships, though, has eluded the South Americans in almost 13 years.
They last tasted championship honours in 2005 on home soil.
“We want a fit 50 overs squad,” Griffith told Stabroek Sport during a recent interview.
As it relates to the shortcomings of the past, he said: “I think in the past we struggled with players not being fit and if you look at the tournament’s structure this year, we have to play eight matches with not a lot of time in between.
“So, we are definitely going to take fitness into consideration when selecting the 50 overs squad.”
For some pundits, the Guyanese have not quite embraced the evolution of the sport where batsmen are now expected to go at a striking rate of better than a hundred while bowlers are expected to produce ‘special’ deliveries to counter the explosiveness of the new age batsmen.
The chairman, however, is keen on including players who are abreast of the changing nature of the sport and those who can turn around the fortunes of the four-day champs in the shorter version of the sport.
“Yeah, definitely we are looking a few specialists and we will see some fresh faces this year,” Griffith noted without giving too much away.
The Regional 50 overs tournament kicks off in Barbados and Antigua on January 30 – February 24 and will see the South Americans grounded in Antigua in group ‘B’ alongside the Jamaica Scorpions, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, United States and Kent.
Group ‘A’ includes defending champions Barbados Pride, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Combine Campuses Marooners, Windward Island Volcanoes and Hampshire.
THE COMPOSITION OF THE SQUAD
The composition of the squad will be no easy task for the selectors. They will first have to contend with the unavailability of West Indies pacer, Ronsford Beaton and the lively Keon Joseph while Assad Fudadin has shifted his allegiance.
There are, however, no shortage of replacements which will reflect a squad filled with all-rounders.
The opening combinations should feature young Shimron Hetmyer and Chandrapaul Hemraj. Hemraj is expected to be one of the new faces in the lineup. Nevertheless, the duo can provide the much-needed top order firepower that has been lacking over the years.
Skipper Leon Johnson, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Raymon Reifer and wicketkeeper Anthon Bramble are ideally suited to provided middle order stability on the low surface in Antigua.
The back end of the innings for which a lot of emphasis is placed these days with either bat or ball can be a weapon for the Jaguars this year with the inclusion of all-rounders Sherfane Rutherford, Keemo Paul and Ricardo Adams.
Spinners Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, and Anthony Adams – all of whom can bat – will shoulder the responsibly in the bowling department while seamer Romario Shepherd can share the new ball with one of the all-rounders, if fit.
The final spot in the 13-man squad can go either way with the inclusion of Jonathan Foo or Christopher Barnwell, who has been in good form recently.
Probable squad: Shimron Hetmyer, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Leon Johnson (captain), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Raymon Reifer, Sherfane Rutherford, Keemo Paul, Anthony Bramble, Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Romario Shepherd/Paul Wintz, Ricardo Adams, Anthony Adams, Christopher Barnwell/ Jonathan Foo.