– Demerara outplay Berbice to retain El Dorado titleBy Sean Devers
Despite heavy afternoon rain, over 5,000 watched as Demerara outplayed Berbice by 71 runs to retain their El Dorado Inter-County 50-overs cricket title as the Guyana National Stadium hosted its inaugural cricket match under floodlights on Friday evening.
It was sweet revenge for the Leon Johnson-led Demerara side after their loss to Berbice at Blaimount in the preliminary round and again exposed Berbice’s mental weakness playing away from home.
Man-of-the-Match Chris Barnwell thumped nine fours and a six in his entertaining 84-ball 77 and along with West Indies under-19 player Rajendra Chandrika, who made 43 from 56 balls, gave Demerara a solid 132-run foundation before Johnson contributed a valuable unbeaten 55 to spur the host to 204-6 after game was reduced to a 34-over per side affair due to the rain.
First-class batsman Royston Crandon stroked a run-a-ball 50 with six fours and former West Indies under-19 left-hander Gajanand Singh reached the boundary twice in his 45-ball 30 as Berbice, who have not lifted the title since their win in the 2004 final at Albion, were bowled out for 133 in 28.1 overs.
Like last year, Berbice failed to cross the final hurdle after beating Demerara in the preliminary round and for a team which included nine first-class players; their performance in the historic match-up under lights was disappointing as Demerara looked the better team on the night on a slow track and fast outfield.
Berbice won the toss at 14:45hrs under dark ominous clouds and asked Demerara to bat first in the game which was scheduled to commence at 15:00hrs but the players had to wait until 17:28hrs to get onto the field as the ground staff worked hard to facilitate play.
Barnwell began with stunning boundaries against Esaun Crandon while Chandrika punched Paul Wintz gloriously to the cover ropes as Demerara were off to a rollicking start.
Barnwell continued his good form in the competition and although he slowed down as he approached his second consecutive fifty against Berbice in the three-team competition which also included Essequibo, the 21-year-old all-rounder with three 20/20 matches for Guyana, played an array of audacious shots before he recklessly attempted a second run to Crandon at deep cover and ran himself out 23 short of his maiden ton at this level to leave the hosts on 132-1 in the 23rd over.
Chandrika, who played the supporting role in the opening partnership, was then run out in the next over at 137-2 while Zaheer Mohamed, promoted in the order, continued the erratic Demerara running by being run out at 154-3.
Mohamed, who was caught off a free-hit from Test leg-spinner Mahendra Nagmootoo on three, failed to capitalise and perished for seven as Berbice fought back in the last 10 overs of the Demerara innings although several fumbles on the damp outfield offered free runs to the opposition.
The twenty-one-year-old Johnson, with scores of 41 and 46 in the competition, saved his best form for when it mattered most. He rotated the strike wonderfully and picked the gaps with precision in his accomplished unbeaten 55 from just 42 balls and 46 minutes.
Ravi Sarwan, the younger brother of West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, became the fourth consecutive batsman to be run out as he departed for three at 176-4 with three overs to go.
West Indies Left-arm U-19 spinner Veerasammy Permaul bowled Orin Forde (4) and had Deon Ferrier caught at long-on for a duck off successive balls with the score on 200 in the final over as Demerara wasted their pugnacious start.
Permaul had 2-43 from seven overs but it was the off-spin pair of Royston Crandon (7-0-35-0) and Test player Narsingh Deonarine (7-0-37-0) that kept the run rate in check after Barnwell’s early assault.
With the Stereo Sonic Sound System providing pulsating rhythms in the Mound Stand to further entertain the raucous crowd which included a large number of females and children, Berbice began their reply explosively and galloped to 29 from the first three overs as Crandon showed early signs of aggression.
Steven Jacobs dropped a waist high ‘sitter’ at square-leg off Barnwell to let Test Opener Sewnarine Chattergoon off the hook and the Albion left-hander responded with a scintillating cover driven boundary next ball to excite the crowd which included a large number of Berbicans who travelled to the City on Friday afternoon for the contest.
However, Chattergoon (9) flattered to deceive and Forde at slip held a regulation catch on the second attempt in an eventful over from Barnwell to leave the visitors on 22-1.
Former Guyana under-19 all-rounder Kellon Carmichael bowled intelligently and used his slower balls to good effect as Demerara put the breaks on the free scoring.
Off-spinners Ferrier (6.1-1-20-1) and Jacobs (5-0-22-1) were used in tandem in cool conditions and the much vaunted Berbice batting line-up never really freed the shackles once the dangerous Deonarine (6) was run out at 29-2.
When Assad Fudadin (6) edged a catch to wicketkeeper Joseph Perry off Carmichael at 48-3 Berbice were in trouble.
Just after reaching his fifty, Crandon gave his wicket away with an impetuous lofted drive off Jacobs to long-off but with Sarwan forced to leave the field after being struck on his ankle, the game was still in the balance with Berbice on 94-4 in the 17th over.
However, when the experienced Hoomchand Pooran, who was dropped by Perry off Mohamed on four, was leg before to the same bowler at 104-5, the home fans were already beginning celebrations.
Singh again looked good before another injudicious shot, this time a pull off an almost waist high full toss from off-spinner Orin Forde, caused his demise; caught at deep mid wicket at 118-6 with 10 overs to go and once again Demerara were looking the superior side mentally on the ‘big’ day.
Esuan Crandon (9) and Paul Wintz (7) struggled to score boundaries as the run rate climbed and once Ferrier bowled Crandon it was all over bar the shouting.
Forde (4-0-13-2) had Wintz taken at long-off while Nagamootoo and Hinks were run out for ducks as both sides exhibited the type of loose cricket which is causing plenty of distress to West Indian fans and should be a cause for concern for local administrators who really have the development of game at heart.
After the game President of the Guyana Cricket Board Chetram Singh announced that the usual three-day inter-county competition, which is used to help select the Guyana first-class team, will no longer be held because of Essequibo’s consistent poor showings.
Singh, the GCB President since 1992, informed that 42 players will be selected this week by the national selectors to form three teams to play in a three-day competition later this month.
He explained that the best 42 players should be selected to play in the three-team competition and feels that this will allow more quality players to be exposed to the selectors since some players who can’t make their County teams but are better than some of those who play at this level for other teams are deprived of really vying for national selection since the trial squad is usually picked from the Inter-County competition.
Guyana should play two matches in December in the first phase of the next Carib Beer regional first-class competition while this year’s regional One-Day tournament is scheduled from November 13-26.
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