Deonarine must be groomed properly

Stabroek News
August 15, 1999

Guyana's domination of the Nortel cricket competition in the six-year period from 1992-1997 is fast becoming a brilliant historic achievement fit to be preserved in the archives of the Guyana and West Indies Cricket Boards.

Nothing was gained from this year's competition to rekindle the feeling of superiority among Guyanese fans from the team in this year's just concluded series in Barbados.

The six-time champions fell from high status to underdogs after failing to bring home either of the three-day or one-day titles up for grabs this year.

If our failure last year in the re-formatted one-day competition can be considered a mere aberration, this year confirmed that we are no longer the force of past years.

However, it was not a total lost in Barbados this year. Individually, the high class batting performances of Narsingh Deonarine was a welcome assurance that this country can still be considered a main provider of batsmen for the West Indies.

Deonarine was undoubtedly a class above his teammates and definitely one of the best on show in the eight-team competition.

His three centuries scored were all recorded successively, giving him a 544-run tally, batting 10 times in the two competitions. It was a staggering display by the 16-year-old whose experience is minuscule compared to the other two leading batsmen in the series, Barbadian Ryan Hinds and Marlon Samuels of Jamaica.

Both have first class experience playing for their country's senior teams thus making them more experienced from a cricketing and age perspective.

Deonarine made his debut in last year's truncated competition and this year can be properly listed as his first full series in the 19 years and under competition, and Guyana could not have asked for more from the youngster

A number of other outstanding performances were recorded from Guyanese players, but their consistency was a far cry from Deonarine's form.

Orvin Mangru set a new Nortel bowling record with his nine-wicket haul but he did not come close to matching the feat afterwards. Hemnarine Harrinarine bagged an eight-wicket tally in Guyana's very match against the Nortel XI, but he was never the same bowler afterwards while Kevin Bazil showed promise but was not given the opportunity to realise his full potential.

Those performances left no doubt about the talent in the team, but obviously it was not harnessed properly to form a collectively strong unit.

If Deonarine's performances in the Carib Cement under-15 tournament last year in which he ended with an average of over 250 runs, caught the attention of administrators, his achievements at the higher level should give him a permanent place in the minds of all.

He was the essence of the complete batsman in Barbados. When it was necessary for him to occupy the crease in the longer game as his 131 and 142 scores against Barbados and Trinidad revealed, he was capable of complying . In the one-dayers when quick scoring was required, Deonarine was also up to the task as his 92-ball 101-runs suggested against the Windwards.

The teenager, has thus made the first step towards a promising career, but he must be groomed along the correct path to stardom.

So far he has displayed humble characteristics as a person and must be allowed to mature without losing those qualities. Swellheadedness has caused the demise of many young Guyanese sportsmen in the past, mainly through the influence of people close and far to the individual. At this stage of his career, Deonarine must be treated for what he is--a promising young cricketer. He must not be made to feel he has arrived at the pinnacle of the sport and not heed advice from cricket knowledgeables who know best.

Now is the time for him to assimilate all of the advice possible from past cricketers who have been in the sport long enough to experience the difficult road to the top.

The next step for the Albion player is obviously his elevation to the senior national squad beginning with the upcoming Red Stripe Bowl one-day competition. There should be no question of him being too young for the higher level. He may be 16, but his maturity belies his years, thus the time is ripe for him to benefit from the exposure of touring with the Guyana senior team.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples