A look at Guyana’s quest for Under-19 honours
Concentration should focus on mental preparation By Donovan Matthews
Guyana Chronicle
June 18, 2002

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ONE gets the impression that the reason the Guyana Cricket Board’s Under-19 selection panel scheduled nine consecutive days of trials at the beginning of May, for the regional tournament at the end of July, was because they wanted an early selection of the team so as much preparation could be had before setting off for Jamaica.

So when seasonal rains came and the trials were aborted after two badly affected matches, it was logical to think the knowledgeable gentlemen would at least shortlist a squad for training - especially since the rain is not expected to hold in time to allow another trial.

Guyana’s preparation for these tournaments has always been hampered by rain, so that is no excuse. What we cannot achieve physically, we can achieve mentally. With talent on equal footing nowadays, the team that is better prepared mentally is the team that usually comes out on top.

At least a 18-man squad, from which the final 14 would be selected, should have been announced by now.

Although Guyana’s batting in last year’s tournament was nothing to shout about, it was their inability to dismiss opponents, which ultimately cost them. The bowling lacked incisiveness with fast bowler Jeremiah Harris virtually carrying the attack on his strong shoulders. His haul of 20-odd wickets was last achieved by a Guyanese fast bowler in 1997 when Shawn Grant and Eion Katchay led the team to the last of six consecutive triumphs.

Over the years Guyana’s dependence on spin has become well known although quality spinners have been scarce lately. It is becoming increasingly clear that the faster bowlers are doing a better job now and should be encouraged.

Selecting batsmen who can be used as “shine removers” is not advisable, since it did not work last time. On the occasions when Guyana used their two specialists pacers in tandem they got off to impressive starts, against Barbados and the Leeward Islands. According to reports, Quason Nedd was seldom fit however, leaving Harris to do the “donkey work”.

Thus, with at least five serious contenders, the selectors should be taking no less than three fast men to Jamaica.

With Harris still available, he is obviously the first choice. His support would come from among Nedd, Trevon Garraway, Kwesi Maltay and Deron Peters.

Although Nedd, who has a fair turn on pace, was part of last year’s team, his inability to stay fit for long periods could work against him. Maltay’s return in the inter-county tournaments should make him the number two fast bowler with the third spot going to either Peters or Garraway. Both have strong claims with Peters possessing the ability to swing the ball each way and Garraway fast developing into a capable lower-order batsman.

Although the spinners did not show wicket-taking ability in the trials, in fairness to them, they were not helped by the actions of ultra defensive batsmen. Assad Fudadin, the only century-maker, was the most aggressive (batsman) with the others content on just keeping their wickets intact.

The most impressive spinners however, were off-spinners Zaheer Mohamed and Dennis Squires, along with left-armers Charles Ramson and Sauid Drepaul. Drepaul, who is viewed more as a batsman nowadays, does have the knack of taking wickets at key times.

Fifteen-year-old leg-spinner Abdel Fudadin also showed good promise, with the ability to turn the ball both ways. He is however, scheduled to be on tour of England with the Guyana Under-15, making him unavailable.

The other contending spinner is Lokeshwar Mohabir who failed to make an impression in last year’s tournament.

Among the batsmen, three return from last year with Assad Fudadin stamping his authority throughout the inter-county matches. Opener Rawlston Tappin and Devon Ramnauth, both disappointing last year, have not helped their chances this time around. Tappin, has continued to be out of sorts while Ramnauth missed the majority of the inter-county and the trials through examinations.

Roopnarine Ramgobin, who made his debut at this level as a precocious 14-year-old in 1998, but missed last year’s tournament has shown renewed interest and should also return to the line-up.

Among those seeking a first-time call-up is opener Moshin Perkhan, whose inclination to take on the Demerara pacemen in the inter-county tournament should put him in good stead on the hard tracks of Jamaica.

Another opener, Latchman Rohit, also seems to have booked his place with consistent performances in the inter-county and trials, with Imran Khan Hassan and the hard-hitting Zaheer Saffie also catching the eye with a few outstanding innings.

Zaheer Mohamed and opener Shawn Jairaj, although not scoring heavily, are two well-balanced batsmen and good timers of the ball, with the former’s off-spinning ability being a major asset.

Delbert Hicks, standby to Derwin Christian in 2001, is the best wicketkeeper on show and should get his chance this time around.

The 18 should therefore read: Assad Fudadin, Jeremiah Harris, Roopnarine Ramgobin, Zaheer Saffie, Zaheer Mohamed, Moshin Perkhan, Kwesi Maltay, Trevon Garraway, Deron Peters, Imran Khan Hassan, Shawn Jairaj, Delbert Hicks, Charles Ramson, Sauid Drepaul, Lokeshwar Mohabir, Dennis Squires, Latchman Rohit and Devon Ramnauth.
(Sports Editor’s note: This article was written prior to the selection of Guyana’s 18-man squad yesterday).