By Zaheer Mohamed
West Indies Left arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and women’s all-rounder Tremayne Smartt grabbed the male and female cricketer of the year prizes respectively when the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) held its annual awards ceremony on Thursday night last at the Georgetown Cricket Club pavilion. Permaul edged out fellow Berbicians Narsingh Deonarine and Shemron Hetmyer, while Smartt a regular member of the West Indies women’s team, got the nod ahead of June Ogle and Phaffiana Millington.
Permaul also took away the senior regional cricketer of the year trophy, while Deonarine was given the senior domestic cricketer of the year accolade. Guyana Jaguars skipper Vishaul Singh pocketed the most improved player of the year award, his fellow GCC club mate Leon Johnson received a prize for his selection to the West Indies senior team, while Essequibo fast bowler Ronsford Beaton was rewarded for his achievement with the West Indies A team.
Hetmyer, who had an outstanding 2014 Regional U-19 tournament, is the junior cricketer of the year; he also received prizes for scoring most runs and being the most valuable player in the said tournament.
West Indies U-19 opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul received awards for scoring the most runs in the Regional U-19 three-day and one-day competitions, while spinners Steven Sankar and Sharaz Ramcharran were rewarded for taking the most wickets for Guyana in the said three-day and one day tournaments respectively.
Other specials awards went to Sherfane Rutherford (MVP Regional U-17), Keemo Paul (most wickets in Regional (U-17), Adrian Sukwah (most runs in Regional U-17), Joshua Persaud (MVP and most runs in Regional U-15), Kevin Sinclair (most wickets in Regional U-15), Phaffiana Millington (MVP and most wickets in female Regional U-19) and Latoya Smith (most runs in female Regional U-19).
Albion Sports Club received the GCB President’s trophy for being adjudged the club of the year while members of the Guyana national U-15, 17 and 19 (male and female) and senior female team received prizes. Zaheer Mohamed of Kaieteur News was given a Special Service Award for outstanding services rendered as a cricket journalist as well as curator Wazim Habib, Jaipersaud Hardeo for his long and dedicated service as an umpire and Savitri Persaud for her long and outstanding service as a cricket administrator. Corporate Awards were given to Sterling Products Ltd and Banks DIH Ltd.
President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Wycliffe Dave Cameron in delivering the featured address showered praises on the divine being and expressed gratitude to GCB President Dru Bahadur, Secretary Anand Sanasie and other executives of the local board for their invitation. He congratulated the awardees, winners and nominees.
Cameron stated that the strength and legacy of club cricket in Guyana is rich and in many ways unparalleled in the region. “So many clubs in this vast country have nurtured players from their cricketing infancy all the way to the Test arena. International cricketing legends and icons of the finest caliber have come from all corners of Guyana,” he added.
The WICB head pointed out that the production line of iconic cricketers in Guyana and in the rest of the Caribbean was something everyone took for granted. “We were so richly blessed with players who were world beaters that we became complacent in the thought that these players would just keep popping up. Things have been different in recent times. The production of world class players has dried up,” he said adding that the injured Assad Fudadin has been replaced by Deonarine on the current South African tour.
Cameron stated that raising the profile of First Class cricket is important for the future success of the game in the West Indies. “At the WICB we have examined the West Indies cricket structure from bottom up and we recognized that there has been a weak link in our First Class competition,” sated Cameron.
He reminded that the WICB has launched the Professional Cricket League. “Players are on annual retainer contracts and cricket and only cricket is their job. You now have 15 of your best players on contract who receive a monthly salary which allows them the comfort of taking care of themselves and their families’ needs,” the president explained.
Cameron informed that 12 umpires are being paid on annual retainers and the Franchise system is supposed to hire at least 12 full time coaches and competent administrators, he feels this structure will start bearing fruits in 2-3 years time.
Guyana Jaguars are leading the table with 57 points after four rounds in the first class tournament and the WICB boss said this is a tremendous turnaround from finishing bottom of the table last season. “I must also say this is not a surprise to me as they were the most prepared team at the seminar we had in Barbados to discuss the business plan around the new franchise,” he explained. Cameron applauded the efforts of Drubahadur, Sanasie and Marketing Manager Raj Singh.
“This is not only instructive but also encouraging as we are unlikely to see regional cricket dominated by one team for a long period and this will only help to engender strong competition and lift the quality of regional cricket – not only at the top levels but also at the junior levels,” he added.
The president stated that they have engaged Kent Crafton from St Lucia as the consultant on the pitch and congratulated the GCB for the work they have done in winning the WICB U-19 and U-15 Competitions this year.
“There is no doubt that talent exists within each territory but these young players need that developmental pathway where they can receive the coaching and be part of a meritocratic system that they know what is required of them at every stage to move on to the next level. The Professional Cricket League will expand the pool of players who the West Indies selectors, now headed by Clive Lloyd, will have to choose from,” Cameron stated.
He said that the WICB is committed to partner with the six Territorial Boards to fund six First Class Franchises in the region.
Cameron informed that the WICB is now turning their attention to Women’s Cricket which has been the Region’s most successful team. “We now have a Women’s Championship and we need to improve on the domestic structure as well. In this regard there are also other opportunities available for your life after cricket – there are coaching certification programmes, umpiring and match refereeing opportunities among others.
Cameron informed that the WICB has created the West Indies Retired Players Foundation to raise funds, assist our former heroes and most of all look at ways to keep some of the former players in the game.
Drubahadur gave an overview of what transpired in 2014 and thanked their sponsors. He said that the GCB will forge ahead in the year 2015 with some initiatives that are intended to add excitement and value to players, coaches, administrators and fans. “In January 2015 you will see the production of “The Guyana Cricketer”. We will continue to develop the LBI facility, community grounds and clubs. Secondary school cricket is high on the agenda in 2015 and the WICB Scotiabank Kiddies and the Grassroots programme will continue,” he said adding that they are planning to stage a T20 league in 2015.
President of the Guyana Olympic Association K. Juman Yassin commended the GCB for a job well done despite the challenges. Vishaul Singh spoke on behalf of the awardees while Sanasie delivered the closing remarks.
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