Tournament not properly promoted
By Sean Devers
The Guyana Jaguars played consistently good cricket in every session except for that one unforgettable morning
of the final day of their third round encounter against Barbados Pride, when set 69 to win, they slumped to their second lowest total ever and were bowled out for 67 to suffer an unbelievable two-run defeat.
That apart, it was an almost flawless performance by the Jaguars, who roared to three wins in the first four games in the first phase of the WICB Four-Day First-Class Cricket Franchise before the tournament took a break for Christmas.
On a slow, spin friendly Providence track the Jaguars whipped the Windwards and Leewards as Narsingh Deonarine scored back-to-back centuries (110* & 139) and Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul and Deonarine conspired to spin webs round the opposition batsmen.
Deonarine reminded his critics of his class after a nightmare season earlier this year which ended with him losing his place in the team. The left-hander from Albion batted brilliantly as he sent a strong message to the Clive Lloyd led Regional selectors and was rewarded with selection in the 30-man Provisional World Cup squad.
He was also among the wickets and his five-wicket haul against the Windwards in the opening game put him among just three others who had scored a century and claimed five wickets for Guyana in the same match. Roger Harper achieved this feat three times.
Shiv Chanderpaul made 62 as the Jaguars fell nine short of a 300 total, a score they would reach twice in the first four games as the batsmen consistently provided scores for their bowlers to successfully defend.
Opener Trevon Griffith is a wonderful talent and the best fielder in the Jaguars team but he needs to concentrate harder to get bigger scores. Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Keon Joseph, who have not played as yet, should get their chance to impress since this is a long season with 10 rounds of home and away matches.
Wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble’s responsible 73 rescued his team from 139-6 to a 250 plus total after West Indies Under-19 opener Shemron Hetmyer played with refreshing maturity to fall three short of a maiden half-century to
leave Jaguars scenting blood against the Bajans going into the final day. What transpired after that was due to sheer reckless batting and was described as ‘complacency’ by Vishaul Singh on his Captaincy debut.
Earlier in that game, Permaul’s career best 8-26 had put the Jaguars on course for what seemed to be an emphatic victory after the Berbician had bettered his 8-36 from the previous game.
Out to prove that the unexpected win by Barbados was just a rare bad session this season, the Jaguars ripped the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to shreds with a commanding innings and 60-run mauling in Port-of-Spain in their first game away from home with Singh leading from the front with an accomplished 141. Rajendra Chandrika (60), Bajan Raymond Reifer (58), Chris Barnwell (65*) and Permaul (50*) all contributed fifties as the Jaguars made 492-8 declared.
Bishoo had seven wickets in the match, while Permaul had 4-15 in the second innings when Essequibo fast bowler Ronsford Beaton, who bowled with pace, even on the ‘dead’ Providence pitches, had two wickets off consecutive balls in a testing opening spell on the penultimate day of the game at the Queens Park Oval. Bramble is also the leading Keeper with 16 dismissals while Carton Baugh (12) is the only other Keeper to reach 10 dismissals.
The first phase of the season saw generally substandard scores as the bowlers, especially the spinners, wreaked havoc on the batsmen who seemed incapable of concentrating for prolonged periods.
The Jaguars were easily the most consistent batting team with two totals over 250, one over 300 and another close to 500.
Deonarine (2) and Singh were among the seven batsmen to score centuries with Devon Smith, Kraigg Braithwaite, Royston Chase, Orlando Peters and Johnson Charles, who scored the highest (151) being the others.
Permaul’s 33 wickets were 12 more than leg-spinners Imran Khan and Devendra Bishoo, who have the second most
scalps with 21 each. Permaul showed all-round ability with his unbeaten 50, his second First-Class half-century, and earned for himself a pick in the World Cup 30-man squad.
Bishoo had 21 wickets but lacked the type of control he showed when he was named emerging player of the year just after the last ICC World Cup and failed to take five wickets in any innings. All-rounders Reifer and Barnwell were both steady but lacked penetration with their medium pace but could be key players when the Regional Super50 starts on January 15 in T&T.
Deonarine and Devon Smith were the only batsmen to reach 300 runs while the Jaguars, despite their unexpected defeat to Barbados, maintained their lead throughout the first phase and had accumulated 57 points at the break.
Jamaica, who face-off with Guyana at Sabina Park when the Four-Day format resumes on February 6, occupy the second spot on 50 points while Barbados are third with 44. The Windwards Volcanoes (26), Red Force (24), and Leewards Hurricanes (10) follow in that order.
The Umpiring in the matches involving Guyana was poor and so too was the promotion of the competition, even in Trinidad which arguably has the most vibrant marketing agencies in the Region, resulting in small crowds attending the games right across the Region. NCN Radio in Guyana provided ball by ball commentary for the first time in years for Regional First-Class cricket and NCN’s new CEO Molly Rampersaud Hassan played a major role in ensuring this was possible.
This is the first time a First-Class competition was scheduled for this time of the year and not surprisingly most games were affected by the adverse weather while pitches which made ‘playing through the line’ problematic and inept shot selection by most of the batsmen, contributed to the low scores.
Devon Smith (334), Deonarine (306) and Johnson Charles (262) were the only batsman to reach 250 runs.
Permaul (33), Khan (21), Bishoo (21) and left-arm spinner Alston Bobb (20), Daimon Jacobs (18) and Nikita Miller (17) all spinners, were the only bowlers to reach 15 wickets. There were 19 five-wicket hauls recorded with Permaul and Bobb taking two each.
The Region seems not ready for Four-Day Franchise Cricket with just Guyana (Reifer) and T&T (Ramnaresh Sarwan) buying overseas players. Bad light stopped play although the WICB mandated that all matches be played at International venues where lights were available.
However, bad light should not have been an issue since the playing conditions clearly states “If in the opinion of the umpires, natural light is deteriorating to an unfit level, they shall authorize the ground authorities to use the available artificial lighting so that the match can continue in acceptable conditions.
The lights are only to be used to enable a full day’s play to be completed as provided in clause 16. In the event of a power failure or malfunctioning lights, the provisions relating to the delay or interruption of play due to bad weather or light shall apply.”
It is hoped that next year, for the second phase, more promotion is done by the respective Boards to attract larger crowds and that all of Regional Boards sing from the same hymn book when it come to the playing conditions.
Guyana played excellent all-round team cricket and seem on course for their first Regional First-Class title since 1998.
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