By Sean Devers in Trinidad
In Association with Digicel, Carib Beer, Giftland Office Max,
Payless Variety Store & Leisure Inn & Car Rentals
Manager of the Guyana Malta Supreme, 57 year-old Alvin Johnson, has been managing National teams at various levels since 2003 when he was first appointed Manager of the Guyana under-19 team for the Regional youth series in Guyana.
But he lamented that this trip to Trinidad for the 2014 NAGICO Regional Super50 cricket series was his most challenging tour as Manager.
“Almost every day I had to take someone to the hospital as a flu bug hit our team here. Of the 14 players we had on tour, only three (Veerasammy Permaul, Trevon Griffith & Anthony Bramble) escaped getting ill,” Johnson disclosed.
While not going as far as to blame illness or the lack of high quality pitches during the backend of the competition, the Essequibian said the illness in particular contributed to Guyana being knocked out at the semi-final stage of the tournament.
“The only time we got to play our best team was in the first match against Ireland and although the selectors picked one of the best squads in a long time, from the second round we were hit by the flu and key players were forced to miss matches” Johnson, a school teacher by profession, pointed out.
Guyana’s most experienced player Shiv Chanderpaul along with fast bowler Paul Wintz missed two matches including the crucial semi-final against Barbados, while the leading run scorer heading into the semis, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine, who contracted the ‘flu’, missed the game against Jamaica, the only game Guyana lost in the preliminary round.
“In the semis three players played with the flu (Ronsford Beaton, Chris Barnwell & Royston Crandon) and the illness in our camp shook up the balance of our side from the second game,” Johnson, who took over the Management of the senior team last year January for the last Caribbean t20 tournament.
Johnson pointed out no other team was hit by the ‘flu bug’ (presently affecting many people in Trinidad) as hard as Guyana were and opined that it could have been a result of their tough training sessions conducted by the two members of the Army in Guyana.
“While the GCB must be commended for hiring the soldiers, I feel the heavy workload on the players was too close to the tournament and in hindsight I would recommend that this phase of our preparation commence earlier,” Johnson opined.
Johnson, in 2012 became the first Manager with the responsibility of Managing both under-19 and U-17 teams in the same year and said he felt the players were more prone to contracting the flu due to their bodies being overworked leading up to the Regional Super50.
“While the fitness level was high a lot of the players entered the encampment phase of our preparation not at fitness level they should have and therefore had to push themselves which I think resulted in them getting the flu so easily,” the Bartica born Johnson believed.
He disclosed that Beaton, who was rated by many as the quickest bowler in the tournament, and his new ball partner Wintz, fell ill twice, at the beginning and ending of the tournament.
“I think the players gave of their best. I also feel that Beaton is full of talent and someone needs to take him in hand since I don’t think he is as strong…both physically and mentally…as he should be. He is just 21 and I would hate to see his ability go to waste since he is the most promising young fast bowler in the West Indies,” added Johnson.
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