Coach Smith critical of practice pitches by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
February 28, 2002

Guyana coach Albert Smith is upset over inadequate net practice facilities for his team's preparation so far at home for the two Busta Cup cricket matches.

Smith said yesterday the team could not use the pitch at Everest because it was wet as no covering was provided on Tuesday night which left it fully exposed to overnight rain.

"The same thing happened at DCC before we played Bangladesh `A', we could not play on the pitch because it was not covered and underprepared," the coach lamented. " We are supposed to be playing at home but we are having the worst facilities", he added.

The former national Under-19 coach said the team got much better treatment in their three away matches in Barbados, Jamaica and St Vincent. He disclosed that the pitches were all covered before they practiced and in Barbados, rain one night before did not disrupt the net session.

Smith was also critical of the strips used so far for the two games at Bourda and at Albion, pointing out that they were expecting more livelier tracks but ran into flat ones.

He said faster pitches are beneficial for both the batsmen and bowlers, also for the spectators who will enjoy more attractive cricket.

The coach added that despite Guyana winning both games, the conditions are not properly preparing the players for the more difficult matches to come.

"Hopefully they would leave a little more grass at Bourda for a better pitch," he said referring to Guyana's next game against West Indies `B' scheduled to start tomorrow.

Touching on Guyana's performance so far, Smith said he was pleased that the players are on an upward momentum of improvement. He said it all started during the third match against the Windward Islands in St Vincent when captain at the time Mahendra Nagamootoo started the turnaround with a match winning first innings bowling performance.

"We had a thorough team meeting and decided that the losing streak could not go on. I mean, it never happened before, those type of results the team is not accustomed to, especially since they did so well last year," Smith explained.

Guyana went on to win that match and the next two to post three successive wins and moved from last position to third. They currently have 36 points, 15 behind leaders Jamaica on 51 while the Leeward Islands are second with 39.

Smith said that one thing the team has learned to appreciate is to have patience which was a key factor in Guyana defeating the Windwards, Bangladesh `A' and Trinidad and Tobago, after losing to Barbados and Jamaica.

The coach explained that the presence of captain Carl Hooper and his West Indies teammate Shivnarine Chanderpaul has had a positive effect on the other players. "Everyone now seems to be more enthusiastic now and it has resulted in all round improved performances," he said. "There fielding at Albion was very good."

Looking forward to the two remaining preliminary games against West Indies `B' and the Leewards at Bourda and Albion respectively, Smith said the plan is to win both games outright for full points and is confident of it materialising, but he explained that better pitches will help a great deal.