By Sean Devers in Antigua
In association with Vnet Communications,
Bounty Farm, Noble House Seafoods &
Guyana has not won a Regional 50-over title since 2005 and on Thursday night at the small Coolidge ground they had their best chance of reaching their first final since being bowled for their lowest total against Trinidad in the 2015 final in Port-of-Spain when Sunil Narine had 6-9.
The Windwards Volcanoes, who lost their first three games, squeezed out Trinidad by winning all of their remaining games including their final match against CCC which they had to win with a bonus point to be level on the points table.
Andrew Fletcher’s century ensured that happened and they finished second in the Barbados group with more wins than Trinidad.
After defending Champs Barbados had booked their place in the final by beating English County side Kent on the previous night, the Jaguars, who finished first in the Antigua Group and were favourites going into Thursday’s match, especially since Fletcher had left for the Pakistan T20 league.
Despite losing for key players (Bishoo, Hetymer, Reifer & Paul) Jaguars chances of meeting Barbados in tonight’s final got better with the withdrawal of Volcanoes’ leading fast bowler Delorn Johnson due to a back injury.
When Guyana plays cricket or Football in Antigua they are considered the home team since the second largest population here is Guyanese and urged on by a partisan crowd of flag waving fans, a day before their Country celebrated Mashramani the Jaguars could not have wanted better support.
But their first mistake was made even before a ball was bowled when they won the toss with rain forecast for later in the evening, and invited Volcanoes to bat on a good track in ideal batting conditions.
“The decision to field first was based on our previous exposure to the surface, which tended to favour the bowlers, with its varied pace, and generally became better for batting during the second innings, owing to a more predictable pace and bounce,” said Manager/Assistant Coach Colin Stuart who had replaced Rayon Griffith in that role. Griffith left to do similar duties with the Windies ‘A’ team.
That was just the first of several lapses; Romario Shepherd dropped a regulation catch to let off the out of form Tyrone Teophile on 10 and he made the Jaguars pay by getting his maiden century, their bowling was inconsistent and they saved their worst fielding display in the tournament for when it most mattered.
“Tonight (Thursday night) we appeared short of our A game. We bowled below par, and at times our fielding did not to live up to expectations,” lamented Stuart, a former Guyana and West Indies pacer.
Once again some of the batsmen displayed less than smart batting. When in the middle of ‘operation rebuild’ with the inform Chris Barnwell and Man-of-Match Kaveem Hodge in his last over, Anthony Bramble, not for the first time in the tournament, threw his wicket away when he tried to go over the top and was taken at long-off.
Barnwell, when well on 25, drove left-arm spinner Larry Edward’s first ball and was caught, while Shepherd departed for a first ball duck off the next ball.
“Though a few batsmen got starts none in the top order were able to bat long enough to produce a match winning innings. We did not play smart cricket,” added Stuart, who is a level 3 Coach’
However, Stuart found some ‘positives’ in the loss and said he felt the team demonstrated commitment and fight to the end moving from 108-7 to their eventual score of 231.
Looking at the overall performance during the tournament Stuart said that Shimron Hetmyer, Devendra Bishoo and Kemo Paul played significant roles before departing for Windies duty, while Barnwell batted well after he joined the team as Reifer’s replacement.
He added the Johnson’s Captaincy continues to be good but feels he needs be more consistent with the bat.
“Guyana Jaguars gave a good account of themselves by convincingly winning the first three matches. Though we thereafter lost two consecutive matches, we were able to play the three remaining preliminary matches under some degree of intensity. This success enabled the Jaguars to gain a place in the semi- finals as well as finishing first in Group B,” Stuart said.
“For the most part of the tournament, our players demonstrated good character, professionalism, passion, resilience and a strong desire to excel,” concluded the Jaguars’ new Manager.
The team arrived home yesterday.
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