By Sean Devers in Barbados
In association with Digicel, Carib Beer,
Leisure Inn, GSL, Queensway &
Dave’s West Indian Imports (NY)
Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Guyana’s poor showing in the three tournaments since winning the last Caribbean T20 title proves that the same thing being done over and over is not working.
When Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) President Chetram Singh announced the appointment of Level I Coach Ravindra Seeram in the middle of the 2009 First-Class season to replace Albert Smith, he insisted he was a Level 2 Coach.
The Guyanese batsmen were not doing well and Seeram’s reputation as an elegant former Guyana First-Class batsman was an influencing factor in him taking over.
The T20 win last year has been Seeram’s only success but the biggest worry is that the batting has regressed. Guyana registered their lowest totals in Regional 50-over and T20 cricket in back-to back tournaments.
In Jamaica last year, Barbados dismissed Guyana for 100 as they failed to reach the 50-over semis before being bowled out for 65 by Jamaica in their opening Caribbean T20 game in Antigua.
As a selector, Seeram helped to choose the players but he cannot be totally blamed for the shoddy performances of the top-order which included Test players Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shiv Chanderpaul, Sewnarine Chattergoon and Travis Dowlin.
However, Seeram has struggled as a tactician. His ‘different day, same approach’ tactics, the composition of the team and the lack of a settled batting order contributed to the team’s demise.
While former champions T&T added a ‘baggage Manager’ to their touring party the defending champions weakened their already weak support staff by omitting Video Analyst Robin Singh and Assistant Coach Reon King whom had travelled with the team for their previous tournament in Jamaica last November.
Guyana, seeking the G$12.5 Million first prize and the trip to India for this year’s Champions League, failed to reach the semis for the first time in Regional T20 cricket.
In South Africa the opening pair of Chattergoon and Dowlin showed little urgency during the first 6 power-play overs even as the other teams were scoring quickly in their opening overs. Seeram said he wanted the batsmen to be watchful in the first few overs against the new ball on the bouncy tracks.
That his failed strategy was persisted with suggests the Coach expected different results from the doing the same things over and over. Seeram continued with the Dowlin/Chattergoon combination (with the same results) until the final match when Richard Ramdeen made a cameo 35. Nothing changed in this Caribbean T20 tournament as the openers again failed to score quickly ‘up front’ when the field restrictions were in place.
The investment by the private sector and Government in the team and the exposure to high-level competition in testing conditions in South Africa was expected to produce improved results when the team retuned to Regional competition.
Chattergoon and Dowlin were dropped from the 50-over team but the appalling batting continued, even with Chanderpaul and Sarwan in the side in Jamaica.
The 2011 T20 batting was even worse and it took a combination of a level-headed last over from Esuan Crandon and a Somerset lower-order panic and then pugnacious hitting from Derwin Christian in the next game against CCC to give Guyana heart-stopping last-over wins when they seemed ‘dead and buried’ in both games.
Manager Carl Moore allowed Chanderpaul to miss a must-win game without a life and death situation being the reason, resulting in Guyana being forced to again open with the out-of-form Dowlin and a crucial loss.
Questions must be asked about commitment to country as the Manager’s decision helped to throw away another golden opportunity for the team to make their country proud, generate funds for the players and GCB and promote Guyana as an eco-tourism destination, had they qualified for India.
Sarwan is Guyana’s best T20 batsman but while his captaincy on the field was brilliant he must take some blame for the erratic batting orders.
Ramdeen was only given ‘a run’ in the last game and failed but he is young, talented and willing to listen to advice. Steven Jacobs, Chris Barnwell and Royston Crandon should have done more but they contributed at crucial times, showed heart and presented bowling options.
Christian is still the best Keeper in Guyana but his impetuous shot selection has robbed him of doing his batting talent justice. His level-headed fireworks in the last two matches must now convince him that he can produce once he keeps his head.
Dowlin is Guyana’s leading T20 batsman but the pressure on him by the inability of the other opener to score and his loose shot selection against the new ball, contributed to 11 consecutive failures and he should have been rested or pushed down the order.
The biggest disappointment was Jonathon Foo, who scored a match-winning 17-ball unbeaten 42 in the last T20 final. He looked uncomfortable against the short balls and batted too low in the order.
But at 20, once he understands he is not yet a superstar and focuses more on
his cricket and personal development, he could have a bright future.
The bowlers did well although the medium pace of injured Paul Wintz and the experience of Lennox Cush, who is presently with the USA team in China, were missed.
The selectors produced a ‘four-day’ top-order for T20 cricket; picking Chattergoon and Chanderpaul, (both with T20 strike rates of less than 100) and an out-of form Dowlin in the same team.
They could have opted for the more attacking Rajendra Chandrika, Shemroy Barrington or Leon Johnson when they replaced injured Narsingh Deonarine with Chattergoon.
The four-day competition is less than two weeks away and the side is yet to be announced even as time, effort and money are spent on GCB elections campaigning.
President Chetram Singh has little control of his charges but he has served Guyana’s cricket well, especially in the first 15 years of his 19-year term and it is expected that his Successor shows as much dedication for the game’s development as Singh did in his early days as GCB head.
The new Board must put the cricket first and replace the Coach, Manager and selectors with ‘new blood’ who are competent and without the baggage of recent failure. There are many such persons and it’s the board’s responsibility to encourage them to come on board.
The Board must also send a strong message to the players from under-15 to First-Class level that representing the close to 750,000 people in Guyana and the near one million Guyanese abroad, is an honour, with which must come responsibility and commitment to their country whenever they play under the Golden Arrow Head.
Another unsuccessful tournament for Guyana has concluded and with a new board to be installed the time for change is now.
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