By Sean Devers
In the Agricultural settings of East Bank Essequibo, the Tuschen ground hosts the most important game in the sixth and penultimate round of the GCB Jaguars three-day Franchise League which bowls off today from 09:30hrs between leaders
Lower Corentyne and second placed West Demerara.
This is one of four matches in the round with Lower Corentyne almost assured of the inaugural title. However, West Demerara and East Coast are the other teams with outside chances of winning the eight-team league.
West Demerara must beat Lower Corentyne and hope that L/C’tyne is beaten by West Berbice in the final match at Port Mourant for them to be denied the title. Georgetown usually has the highest standard of division-one cricket but questionable selections have condemned the City Franchise to the cellar position in a league where the standard of the game has been diluted because it has too many teams.
Despite the loss of Veerasammy Permaul due to West Indies ‘A’ team duties, Lower Corentyne is the strongest team competing and their performance in this inaugural tournament has been outstanding as the only team to win every match so far.
The Berbice side tops the points table with 86.1 points and has proved the saying that bowlers win matches by collecting 10 opposition first innings wickets in the each of their five games to earn the maximum 15 bowling points.
In the first round, on an excellent Tuschen pitch, L/Corentyne led by a belligerent 152 from Jonathon Foo, made their highest total of 382. Foo has the most runs (465) with two centuries and along with teammate Kandasammy Surujnarine (372) are among the top three batsmen in the league in which nine centuries have been scored and 12 bowlers have captured five-wicket hauls.
The return from Canadian cricket of former West Indies ODI player Royston Crandon strengthens L/Corentyne’s batting and adds punch to their spin department. Seon Hetymer, a former National U-19 batsman and elder brother of West Indies ‘A’ team selectee Shemron Hetmeyer, former West Indies U-19 left-hander Gajanand Singh, the consistent Surujnarine and Keeper Akeem Hinds gives Lower Corentyne a powerful batting line up.
Raun Johnson and Neal Smith provide the Berbicians with a potent new ball attack while Guyana U-19 left-arm spinner Kasim Khan has been a more than adequate replacement for Permaul. He is the leading wicket-taker with 29 scalps including three five-wicket hauls and the best figures (7-25) in the League.
West Demerara’s only loss was in the opening round they when they were beaten by East Coast at Lusignan. The West Dem unit has accumulated 64.6 points and with one round remaining is keen to close the gap on the leaders before facing Essequibo in their final game at Tuschen.
Twenty year-old First-Class opener Taignarine Chanderpaul has the highest score in the tournament (187) and is only behind Foo in the runs aggregate with 449. Apart from his dad Shiv, young Chanderpaul is one of the few batsmen with the temperament for batting ‘long’ in the league and will be the key to West Demerara building a challenging total.
Bajan Raymon Reifer is the other batsman to score a hundred for the West Dem Franchise and they will hope for support from Akshaya Persaud, Romario Shepherd, National U-19 Captain Travis Persaud and opener Renaldo Rennie on his home ground.
Left-arm seamer Reifer and Shepherd are among the leading all-rounders and will spearhead the pace attack while Guyana U-19 off-spinner Ritchie Looknauth, Yatesh Dhanpaul and Keshram Seyhodan are the slow bowlers West Demerara will depend on.
If West Demerara gets the maximum 21 points and Lower Corentyne manages none, which is highly unlikely, West Demerara will still be 1.1 point behind the Berbicians. In the other games slated to start today, West Berbice (29 points) face-off with Georgetown (24.4) in Canjie; Essequibo (30.5) oppose third placed East Coast (59.3) at the Imam Bacchus ground on the E’bo Coast and East Bank (25.1) battle Upper Corentyne (34.8) at Everest in the City.
Foo (2), T. Chanderpaul (W/D), Kevin Boodie (E’bo), Reifer (W/D), Sherfane Rutherford (E/B), Kyron Fraser (W/B’ce), Kemo Paul (E’bo) and Chris Barnwell (GT) are the batsmen to reach three-figures.
Kasim Khan (3), Permaul (3), Akenie Adams (E’bo 2), Ian Hooper (U/C 2), Ershad Ali (E/B), Reifer (W/B), Anthony Adams (E’bo), Gudakesh Motie (W/B), Amir Khan (E/C), Shepherd (W/D), Kamesh Yadram (E/C) and GT’s Gajanan Suknanan, who is second among the wicket-takers with 25 scalps, have all taken five-wicket hauls.
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