Busta Shield win for all Guyanese
- coach Albert Smith By Donald Duff
Stabroek News
April 10, 2002

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"This victory was for the Guyanese people." Those were the words by coach of Guyana's victorious senior cricket team Albert Smith minutes after the team touched down at the Dr Cheddi Jagan International airport, Timehri on Monday night shortly after 8 p.m. Smith was referring to the hard fought win on first innings over defending champions Jamaica in Kingston, which wrested the Busta International Shield from the hosts in the drawn encounter which ended on Sunday. "The competition was great, Jamaica played good cricket, " he added pointing out that Guyana's cricket throughout the competition was a bit inconsistent. "Even with the Test players we dropped first innings points to West Indies," `B' Smith said to drive home his point. Preparation the key Smith credits the team's success to its preparation for the final. "The team was physically and mentally well prepared. After the semi-finals we had time to work with them. " Smith said four of the players namely Carl Hooper, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ronnie Sarwan and Mahendra Nagamootoo went off to the West Indies training camp in Trinidad which obviously helped them. Victory for Guyana Smith said that after losing to Jamaica in last year's final and again in this year's second round encounter the emphasis was on reversing the trend. As a result the management and the team itself really needed and went all out to achieve a victory which was not only for the team itself but for all Guyana. Having achieved their objective Smith was asked if with the Busta International Shield and the Red Stripe Bowl firmly in Guyana's grasp, whether the country could lay claim to being number one in the region.

"I won't really say we are the top team because in Guyana and Jamaica you have two countries whose cricket is at the pinnacle. The final was played with a spirit of friendly animosity which provided great competition. Inspirational Hooper Like he has done on numerous occasions for Guyana skipper Hooper proved to be the difference between winning and losing. Smith said the West Indies captain was the player who made the big difference throughout the tense stages of the final. Declaring that the Jamaicans had them fighting until the end Smith added.."In the fight he was outstanding and dominated the bowling." Partnerships Although down playing his part, some of the credit must go to Smith who forged successful partnerships with team manager Pat Legall, the players, and the skipper Hooper himself. The win is of special significance for Smith in that it is his first senior title triumph. Smith and Legall, the former Guyana fast bowler first teamed up at the youth level, their combined efforts helping Guyana establish six consecutive Nortel Under-19 title wins. He also gave credit to the team. "All the guys worked hard and there was so much I was able to learn," he said. "We were very close, we were like a unit and the teamwork was great," Smith enthused. Record feat Smith was ecstatic over the achievement of leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo whose record breaking feat of 50 wickets in the season played a major role in the team's triumph. "Mahendra is a hard worker. His feat is unique in the sense that he has done it at the youth level and now at the senior level. I hope he carries on this form into the Test arena for the upcoming series," he added. Smith also lauded Hooper. "I think it was a great experience working with him. It was quite comfortable working with him and I learnt a lot," he said. He added that himself and Hooper worked as a team in almost every aspect and he was very grateful for that. Smith concluded that he would like to thank the skipper and the other members of the team for their co-operation.