By Sean Devers
This year’s Regional under-19 cricket Tournament was played in Guyana for the 14th time and included all the Regional teams for the three-day competition, while the ICC Americas were added to the six other teams for the one-day format.
Despite the adverse weather and dispute between the Guyana Cricket Board and the Guyana Government, the GCB must be commended for ensuring the tournament remained in Guyana and most of seven venues used were in top condition for cricket although some more effort could have been made to ensure that some play was possible in the final, which was washed out without a ball being bowled at Everest.
Secretary of the GCB, Anand Sanasie, ensured that the team had excellent preparation which provided them with a firm foundation for success by encamping them at the Chetram Singh Centre of Excellence at LBI where they had access to the indoor practice nets.
The general standard of the Umpiring in the tournament was of a consistently high standard and while the Guyana pitches were on the slow side, the fast bowling in both the three-day format and the 50-over version was very impressive and one of high points on the field.
Guyana, who began with a draw in the three-day tournament against the Leeward Islands at the Stadium, was the only team that remained unbeaten throughout both competitions to win both titles in the same year for the first time as they dethroned double defending champions Jamaica.
West Indies U-19 opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul, who scored the second most runs including the highest score of the tournament with an unbeaten 132 to average 61.75, was adjudged the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Leeward Islands batsman Kacey Carty from St Marten, with 248 runs, captured the award for the batsman with the most runs after scoring a single run more than Chanderpaul.
Barbadian Chad Williams with 26 scalps took the Bowler with the most wickets Award, while Bajan Keeper Leniko Boucher walked away with the Award for the Most Dismissals with 6 catches and a stumping.
Chanderpaul copped the Award for highest score while West Indies under-19 pacer Alzarri Joseph from Antigua and the Leewards was adjudged the most promising fast bowler.
In the one-day format Guyana had an unblemished record of six consecutive victories in preliminary rounds and like in the first ever Final in Trinidad in 1998, won the tournament by virtue of finishing with the most points, much like Jamaica did when their 1998 final against Barbados was washed out without Barbados having the opportunity to bat.
West Indies U-19 opener Shemron Hetymer collected three Awards, taking the Awards for Most runs (321), the Highest Individual score (123) and the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
Jamaican Wicketkeeper Romaine Morris took the Award for the most successful Wicketkeeper while T&T pacer Akil Seetal had 15 wickets to cop the Award for most wickets in the 50-over version of this year’s competition.
Kemo Paul, who scored four half-centuries in five innings in his 288 runs and bowled with genuine pace on occasions, took home the Best All-Rounder Award which was put up by the National Sports Commission (NSC). Chanderpaul scored the only other ton in the 50-over competition in his 233 runs.
Brian Sattaur became the first Guyana Captain to win both three-day and one-day titles in the same year, bettering the feat of Steven Jacobs, who lead Guyana to the three-day title in 2007 in St. Kitts before losing to Jamaica in the 50-over final the same year when Horace Miller decimated the Guyana bowling attack with an explosive 133.
The Guyanese completely dominated the 2014 tournament and played as a united force with Hetymer, Chanderpaul and Paul leading with the bat, while ‘pint size live-wire’ Askay Homraj and wicketkeeper Kemol Savory also played their parts with important runs.
Sattaur was a major disappointment in his final year at this level; failing to score a single half-century, and like Hetymer, was guilty of giving his wicket away with impetuous shots.
Paul was the spearhead of the Guyana pace attack which was supplemented by Keno Morris and Nail Smith who bowled with pace in his limited chances due to Guyana’s dependence once again on spin.
Off-spinner Sharaz Ramcharran and leg-spinner Steven Sankar were Guyana’s leading wicket takers while spin support was offered by Balchand Baldeo and Damion Waldron. Ramcharran and Baldeo are specialist batsmen for Albion in the Berbice.
Although Shaquille Martina of the Leewards, Ramaal Lewis of Jamaica, Barbadian Chad Williams and Ramcharran were among the better off-spinners in the tournament, the spinners were disappointing.
In addition to Hetymer and Chanderpaul, who became the only batsmen to score centuries in both formats in the same year, Ross Powell (LW), Amir Jangoo (T&T), Kacey Carty (LW), Ronald Cato (WW), Shamar Springer (B’dos) and Leroy Lugg (Jam) also registered three-figure scores in the three-day format.
T&T skipper Jeremy Solozano, was considered by many as one of the best batsmen in the tournament, but the left-hander struggled badly in his last year at this level in a tournament where the general standard of cricket was far lower than in previous tournaments at this level which produced players like Brian Lara, Shiv Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Clive Lloyd, the legendary former West Indies Captain said he was quite interested in watching the Under-19s because they are the other set of players that will represent the West Indies and that he was quite impressed.
“There were quite a few players that I saw and we have contracts coming out and I am sure that some of them would have earned one or two.”
Lloyd had recently indicated that youth development will be his primary focus in helping revive West Indies cricket. He said that in order to ensure West Indies’ ascension in the ICC Test rankings, emphasis must be placed on honing the potential of youngsters at the regional under-19 level, something he felt was undervalued in the past.
“I think it Is important because you want to pick the right people and not to say that others weren’t doing so but looking at the Under-19s, I think we have a lot of talent around, it is just about harnessing that talent and getting them to that situation where they could perform well at the highest level,” the newly appointed Chairman of the WICB selectors, said.
I am not sure if Lloyd is aware that for the first time teams only played three matches as opposed to five in the past. When I played at this level there was no 50-over format yet the selectors could have picked a West Indies team for the first under-19 world Cup in Australia in 1988.
Former Test leg-spinner Rawle Lewis, now a WICB official, admitted that funding was the main reason the tournament was reduced. But the next youth World Cup is not until 2016, so it would have made sense the replace the 50-over version with the two extra rounds of three-day cricket and if Mr. Lloyd is truly serious about reviving Test cricket by using the U-19 tourney as a developmental competition, then he needs to urgently address this issue at a time when U-19 players are being drafted into the Franchises for the CPL T20.
Another low point of the tournament was the misleading playing conditions which gave Guyana the one-day title by virtue of finishing with the most points. This was however changed to ‘the winner of the final will be the champions’ although former Test batsman Barbadian Roland Holder admitted that the misleading clause in the playing conditions was a mistake.
In other parts of the World someone would have been fired for such a mistake but this is the West Indies and that is another story.
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