…Says Manager Johnson at U-19 farewell dinner
By Sean Devers
Manager of the Guyana Under-19 cricket team, Alvin Johnson, feels this year’s unit is not the best ever produced by this county, but informed that the good balance of the team and a gut feeling makes him confident that Guyana can win this year’s regional series in Jamaica.
Manager since 2003, when the TCL Group began their sponsorship of the competition, “We are coming back well laden on August 6,” Johnson told the gathering at the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) farewell dinner held at the Water Christ Hotel on Monday night.
“While I don’t think this is the best Guyana team since I became Manager, we have a well balanced side and once we play to our full potential we can win both the Three-day and One-day titles. We have always been the most disciplined team and once we can be disciplined on and off the field we should do well,” Johnson opined.
The team departed for Jamaica yesterday morning and will play the Leeward Islands in their opening three-day game at the UP Park Camp from tomorrow after finishing just three points behind champions Barbados last year in Barbados.
Johnson, a headmaster by profession, feels his four-prong pace attack is the team’s strength and expects his fast bowlers to surprise the opposition,” Johnson, who will join the team on Sunday after missing the opening game to attend his daughter’s wedding on Saturday, said.
While Guyana has won 11 three-day titles since their first in 1995, including an unprecedented 6 in a row from 1992, the South Americans have never lifted the One-day trophy since that format was introduced in 1998 in Trinidad.
Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago (the only team to win both the One-day and Three-day tiles in the same year) have won the One-day championship and Johnson said that the eight players back from last year’s tournament in Barbados have been charged to orientate the new players.
“After winning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, Guyana finished 2nd to Barbados last year in the three-day version and because of our dominance in the three-day competition this was deemed a bad showing by many. We have never won the One-day title and our aim this year is to win the double,” Johnson added.
The Manager, who will be replaced by former Essequibo left-handed batsman and Guyana under-15 Manager Elroy Stephney until he arrives in Jamaica, thanked Dawn Braithwaite for her tremendous social skills contribution to the youths and urged the players to make their country proud.
Acting GCB President and National youth selector Faizul Bacchus raised a few eyebrows when he said this was the best ever Guyana youth team and disclosed that the GCB is asking for three things from the team.
“We want you to reclaim the three-day crown, win the one-day competition for the first time and be the most disciplined team,” Bacchus informed.
GCB’ Public Relations Officer Terry Holder chaired the proceedings and revealed that the GCB has guaranteed a victory reception at the Regency if the team win at least one title.
Director of Sports and Member of Parliament Neil Kumar spoke on behalf of Guyana’s Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony, who was unavoidably absent and told the teenagers that they were now wearing Guyana’s colours and should strive hard to do their country proud by performing well in Jamaica.
Kumar said the team has a ‘good set of boys with a hard working manager and coach’ and should be successful.
He added that he was very impressed with the fast bowlers and expects talented Jonathon Foo to be outstanding in the last of his last years at this level.
Representing the sponsors, Plant Manager of TCL Group (Guyana), Mark Bender said TCL is honoured to be a part of this competition, since it was difficult to have West Indies Test players without them being developed at the regional Under-19 level.
“Once again we are on board and I hope the youngsters learnt something from their visit to out Plant on Friday. Our commitment to West Indies youth cricket since 2003 when the tournament was played right here (Guyana) has never wavered despite the recent economic global downturn,” Bender said.
The team will be led by wicket keeper Anthony Bramble with Royston Alkins as his deputy. GCB Executive Ronald Williams wished the players well and reminded them to always strive to be winners.
“Second place is not good enough, you don’t win silver, you lose gold,” Williams stressed.
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