Coach tells batsmen to be positive
By Sean Devers in South Africa
In association with Digicel, Carib, Wartsila Inc, Cops Security, Dave’s West Indian Imports (NY), Igloo Ice Cream, Universal DVD Club & Forest Enterprise
From the cold of Johannesburg the Guyanese arrived in Durban on Monday and after an intense practice session in hot sunny conditions yesterday the South Americans are more at home in South Africa’s third largest City after Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Guyanese seemed affected by nervousness in their first match on the world stage and produced a shabby performance in a tough draw against IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore to be hammered by 9 wickets before a large and raucous crowd.
The largest Indian population outside of India resides in Durban and with a larger capacity than Centurion where Guyana played their first game, the Kingsmead cricket stadium is a few minutes walk from the ocean and the Guyanese are mentally prepared for another vocal crowd of cricket-crazy Indian supporters when they face the Sachin Tendulkar led Mumbai Indians in their next match tomorrow.
“Today (yesterday) was very hot but this is much better than in Johannesburg where it was very chilly. Now the guys know what to expect after experiencing the atmosphere in our first match I think we will have a much better contest this time,” said Coach Ravindra Seeram, the former Guyana First-Class middle order batsman.
The Guyanese faced 65 dots balls (nearly 11 overs) against RCB. Five top order batsmen including Skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan who played an injudicious late cut at a ball too close to him and was bowled, fell in rapid succession and the last 5 overs produced just 28 runs as the other 5 wickets tumbled.
In T20 cricket this is inexcusable and Seeram said the focus now is on scoring quickly in the fist 6 ‘power play’ overs to build a solid foundation.
“Even in the Caribbean Championship we struggled with too many dot balls before (Jonathon) Foo stepped it up towards the end of the innings. This is something (being more aggressive) that we will be working on in the nets here,” Seeram explained.
Guyana has failed to build opening partnerships while Narsingh Deonarine, one of four batsmen in the side with Test experience, is one of the main offenders as the batsmen struggled to get the ball away in the Caribbean and again here last Sunday.
“We have had a frank chat with the guys after what happened on Sunday and they know that they have to step it up since people all over the world are looking at us. The disappointing thing is that we know we are a much, much better team than the way we performed and we are looking at tapes of the Mumbai Indians and also working on correcting our mistakes from the first game,” Seeram informed.
“I have told the batsmen that this is T20 cricket and they have to play shots, they have to be positive without being reckless. Ideally we would want (Ramnaresh) Sarwan to bat through the innings. Everybody is aware that we will be picking what we hope would be our best team for this match sometime on Thursday and anyone can be dropped,” the Coach declared.
He said the team spirit remains high adding that the players themselves are embarrassed at how they played and know that they can’t bat like they did and hope to win T20 games. ‘We are working hard physically, technically and mentally to be ready for the different conditions here and after Sunday I don’t expect nervousness to affect the guys on Thursday,” Seeram said.
Chris Barnwell who top scored with 30 on Sunday is one of the more confident individuals in the squad and while both Seeram and Sarwan agreed that the pressure might have gotten to the young team in their first big match, Barnwell says he does not think the players were overawed by the occasion.
“We were not thinking about the stars really. We stepped on the same cricket field and played cricket. We just didn’t get the basics right and that really hurt us. From the start they were on top of us and that really let the game go away.
“I don’t believe nerves were the main reason why we lost. We batted badly and did not put away the bad balls or scored quick enough. It was hard to defend 103 runs and I know once we can get a good score on the board we have every chance of beating Mumbai Indians,” Barnwell opined. “We saw what happened on Sunday and we are working in the nets on being more aggressive. We did not play our natural game when we batted and we intend to do that in our next game. We started badly but this is not over yet,” the all rounder said.
The much anticipated fireworks from 20-year-old Jonathon Foo never came as he struggled for 6 balls for a single before being undone by the extra bounce and was caught behind off Jacques Kallis.
Lennox Cush, one of the most senior players in the side says that the biggest adjustment the players had to make apart from the climatic conditions was to adjust to the extra bounce of the pitches here.
“In the West Indies the pitches are low and slow so you develop a certain style of play. Here the ball will bounce more and we are now getting used to that. We did not have any practice match here like some of the other teams and it’s like learning on the job for some of the younger guys. I think they now know what to expect and I expect us to play much better cricket in our remaining matches,” Cush said.
Cush scored an explosive Man-of-the-Match century for the USA in the ICC Division 4 fifty-over final against host Italy last month as an opening batsmen but he is playing in this team as the off-spinner. After being hit for two boundaries in the first over he recovered to bowl a tidy spell in a losing cause on Sunday.
“This is all about what’s best for the team. We are here to try and win this thing and I am happy to play whatever role is required of me for the team. If I am asked to open and go after the bowlers that would be great but we sit as a team and come up with what we feel is the best plan for us to win because at the end of the day that’s what’s important,” Cush said.
Cush said you have to adjust very quickly to conditions and situations in T20 cricket because a game could be won or lost in five minutes of something foolish or spectacular.
“I figured I bowled a bit too quickly here but the important thing is to understand what is required. The pitches here are much quicker than those back home and that means your pace and length has to change as a spinner,” Cush said.
Cush says climatic conditions in Durban better suit the team and informed that everyone is working hard and looking forward to tomorrow’s game.
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