Red Stripe Bowl team was not properly prepared
- says coach Albert Smith By Sean Devers in Jamaica
Stabroek News
September 2, 2002

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Albert Smith, coach of Guyana’s national cricket team, is disappointed with his team’s performance in the 2002 Red Stripe Bowl competition which ended yesterday and suggests that batting was the cause of the team’s downfall.

“The batting, even in the zone stage of the competition, badly let us down. In no match did two batsmen get big scores,” Smith said.

Smith, whose Guyana team won this year’s Busta Cup competition said though the outfield was slow, the batsmen ailed to look for the gaps for singles early in their innings to keep the scoreboard ticking.

“We worked on that in the nets but on match day, with the exception of Hooper, it was something different,” he said.

“The senior batsmen took too long to score. They also played the ball to fielders consistently which put pressure on the whole team,” said Smith, who gave Chanderpaul’s 50 from 103 balls against the Windwards and his nine from 43 balls in the semi-final, as examples.

Manager Pat Legall shared Smith’s sentiments.

“We are very disappointed that we lost to Barbados but we have only ourselves to blame. We strengthened the batting and yet only managed 162 despite Hooper’s fine innings,” Legall said after the semi-final defeat.

Guyana’s batting was cause for concern throughout the competition with only Hooper (72), Lennox Cush (70), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (50) and leg spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo (63) getting half-centuries.

While the outfield in St. Lucia was indeed very slow and the pitch not conducive to free scoring, the openers failed to give Guyana any solid start even though both Ramanresh Sarwan (three matches) and Cush (two games) were used to partner Sewnarine Chattergoon whose highest score in five innings was 16.

Chanderpaul laboured to get the ball off the square while Sarwan, whose 40 in the first game was his highest score, also struggled.

Narsingh Deonarine never got into double figures in his five matches scoring 22 runs in the competition while Travis Dowlin who only played the last two games just managed one run.

Smith pointed out that the running between the wickets was way below the required level for players who have played test cricket and said he was surprised that Chanderpaul and Sarwan were the chief offenders.

Another cause for concern was the new ball pair as Reon King got little support from the other end.

“In every game the first 10 over would cost about 50 runs which meant we had to try and find new partners for King. The spinners bowled well but in the end, the wet conditions in the semi-final made it very difficult for them to grip the ball,” Smith explained.

He said that McGarrell was used to open the bowling in the semi-final because, like the year before when Guyana beat Barbados in the final, that was the ploy.

“Barbados don’t play spin too well and Stuart and Griffith were not at their best so we decided to lengthen the batting, which was not doing too well.

We still got a low score with all that batting and the rain made spinning the ball difficult. But I guess our best bet was spin against the Bajans,” he reasoned.

According to the coach, he was pleased with the bowling even though the pacers left most of the work to the spinners.

“King was very impressive and thinks about his cricket a lot while Nagamootoo was again our leading wickettaker. All of the spinners played their part even Sarwan and Cush. Once again it was really the bowlers who won the games for us,” Smith said.

When asked why specialist opener Andrew Gonsalves was not used in the competition and Cush and Sarwan were asked to open Smith said:

“We were looking for utility players...people who could also bowl.

“Form from the inter county and practice matches and the net sessions on tour, were also taken into consideration.”

“Sarwan was used to open basically because of his experience, technique and form in Guyana while Cush, who opens in club cricket and is very aggressive, was used after Sarwan was not able to score quickly at the top of the order,” Smith noted.

“Our fielding was generally quite good up to the semi-final when the wet conditions affected us.

Apart from a few skied catches being put down against Trinidad, I would say the guys performed well in the field.”

Smith was high in praise for Hooper’s captaincy and said when the skipper decides to call it a day it will be a big blow to Guyana’s cricket.

“Hooper is an inspiration to the team. His captaincy was excellent as usual and he skillfully used his bowlers.

We realized how important he was to the team when we played without him in the game against Antigua and Chanderpaul led the side,” said Smith.

Even though Guyana qualified for the semi-final and boasted seven test players, they never played like champions.

Smith believes that it all began even before the team left Guyana.

“We were not properly prepared, mentally and physically. We had just three days to prepare before we left Guyana and that is not enough time to develop and build a winning unit even though some feel that because we have so many West Indies players we will automatically do well.

Cricket is a team game and you need time to prepare as a team,” lamented Smith.

Smith feels the lack of proper mental preparation showed up in pressure situations even among some of the senior players.

Looking at the overall tournament, Guyana’s a most successful cricket coach at all levels said he was not impressed with the standard of play and was worried that the competition had defeated it’s purpose.

“The standard of some of the new teams were very low which meant that you could not truly assess how well you were performing when you did well. The competition is now longer with just one tough match in a zone. This is not good when you are preparing players for international cricket,” Smith opined.

Smith feels that a lot of work needs to be done if the West Indies team is to regain its place at the top of world cricket.

“This competition is used to prepare our West Indian players for competitions like the ICC Champions Trophy and World Cup, yet the pitches and grounds are in no way similar to those we will encounter when we travel outside the region.

We had no turf practice in St. Lucia while the ground and pitch at Kaiser is not what you expect for the final of your premier one-day competition,” Smith argued.

“The entire team is disappointed that we lost to Barbados. Hooper especially wanted to win the double for all the people of Guyana,” Smith concluded.

The Guyana team, minus Hooper, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Nagamootoo and Cush is scheduled to arrive home at 7:35 p.m. this evening.

Hooper, Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Nagamootoo will leave Jamaica on Thursday with the rest of the West Indies team for the ICC trophy competition in Sri Lanka while Cush will return to the USA.