May 25, 2022 Sports
By Sean Devers in Trinidad
In association with WD Hotel & Mall Charity
& Dave’s West Indies Imports
On the back of a thrilling T20-like five-wicket win over defending champions Barbados Pride in the last game, Guyana Harpy Eagles face Jamaica from today in Diego Martin in the fourth round of the CWI Regional First-Class Championships.
In the late afternoon sunshine at the Oval, Guyana were set 68 to win from 13 overs but at 41-5 in 10 overs, they were making a mess of the chase.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul, dropped down to number seven due the nature of the chase after scoring the slowest First-Class ton by a West Indian batter (by balls) in the first innings, joined his level headed Captain Leon Johnson and together they saw their team to victory with six balls to spare.
Chanderpaul, the unlikely hero, smashed a cameo unbeaten 23 from just 10 with four boundaries, one of them, a magnificent scoop from outside off stump to fine-leg, while Johnson kept his composure as the required run rate increased. Johnson was on 14 from 23 balls at the end to spark unadulterated celebrations from his teammates and Guyanese fans far and wide.
None of the top order got‘big scores’ after getting good starts, apart from Chanderpaul who made a marathon undefeated 140.
And it took lower order batter, Gudakesh Motie, one of nine batters to score 10 centuries so far, to help Guyana to their latest win by helping them to 490-7 declared.
A one-wicket win against the Windwards was followed by an innings defeat to Leewards but despite their most recent win, Guyana remains fourth going into their penultimate game on 41.4 points from two wins and a loss behind leaders Barbados (47.2), Leewards (46.4) and T&T (43.3)
Of the six teams, Guyana (4.4) has the least fast bowling points, even though Keemo Paul and Nail Smith shared seven wickets in Barbados second innings and the hardest decision could be if to replace pacer Demitri Cameron, who had an inauspicious debut against Barbados, especially in the field, with off spinner Kevin Sinclair.
It is confirmed that Anthony Bramble, who retired hurt against Barbados after being struck on his wrist, is ready for today, while Vishaul Singh, who missed the last game due to illness, has passed a battery of tests and should replace Akshaya Persaud.
The last time three Guyanese top order batters scored centuries in the same innings was in 1998 against T&T at Enmore, when Shiv Chanderpaul, Clayton Lambert and Carl Hooper got tons.
Chanderpaul Hemraj must understand this is four-day cricket and that a boundary studded cameo will not win games, while Johnson and Singh, both with Test experience, needs to be consistent like Test Captain Kraigg Braithwaite.
Braithwaite is the leading run-scorer with 468 runs with two tons (270 & 111) from three matches.
Tevin Imlach, who kept well in the absence of Bramble, also got 53 but needs to put more value on his wicket.
The batting continues to be the biggest worry as it is being left too often to the lower order to contribute with the bat if Guyana is to post a big score.
The Harpy Eagles’ bowling attack has generally been impressive; bowling out the Bajans twice after they were asked to follow-on.
As has been the case for the last six seasons, left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul is Guyana’s leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps, one behind Leewards’ pacer Jeremiah Louis.
Keemo Paul has worked hard on getting back to full fitness and its showing. During his four-wicket haul he sent down 10 overs on the trot in sweltering heat.
Like Paul, Motie has 11 wickets, but his trajectory and the pace at which he bowls, needs to be discussed with Head Coach Crandon, his assistant Hercules and even Manager Albert Smith, who has been Guyana’s most successful U-19 Coach, winning consecutive titles from 1992 to 1997.
Smith, the spearhead of the pace attack looked hot and cold, bowling with real pace in the first session but struggled for pace and control in his second and third spells.
The Guyanese will not be affected by the West Indies tour to the Netherlands and Pakistan since only Romario Shepherd, who is in the IPL, has been selected.
The Harpy Eagles took a rest on Sunday while their practice session was held yesterday morning.
Jamaica are fifth with 29.6 points with a win and two losses and will be hurt by the absence of one of their two centurions (Campbell being the other) Brandon King.
Like King, Nkrumah Bonner, has also been selected for the West Indies ODI team and will also be unavailable leaving a gaping hole in their middle order.
Jamaica’s batting will be dependent on the experience of Opener John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood, while Paul Palmer and Leroy Lugg will need to contribute significantly as Jamaica, no longer with a shot at the title, plays for pride.
The bowling should be spearheaded by Derval Green, Nicholson Gordon, Jamie Merchant and Marquino Mindley.
Harpy Eagles’ best scenario of winning their 13th title is T&T beating Barbados, the Windwards beating the Leewards and Guyana beating Jamaica, leaving final round clash between T&T and Guyana at the Oval, a virtual final. But that’s all conjecture.
The reality is that the team from the Oil-rich Guyana on the South American mainland must defeat Jamaica with maximum bonus points before thinking about the final round.
Jamaica won the first of their 11 Regional four-day titles in 1969 but has not won since 2012 when their five-year winning streak was broken by Barbados.
Tamar Lambert was captain from 2008 to 2011 while Chris Gayle won in 2012. Barbados (1976-1980) and Guyana Jaguars (2015-2019) are the other teams to win five consecutive titles before Barbados broke Guyana’s streak in the last tournament.
Johnson was captain for every year of Guyana’s winning streak making him the most successful Regional First-Class Captain.
Today’s matches are scheduled to commence at 10hrs with the forecast predicting cloudy skies.
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