Poor practice facilities hamper Guyana
- as locals square off against T&T By Sean Devers
Stabroek News
January 31, 2003

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Defending Busta International Shield champions Guyana had to cope with sub standard practice facilities at the Barataria ground yesterday less than 24 hours ahead of their first round Carib Beer four-day clash against Trinidad and Tobago at the Guaracara Park in South Trinidad today.

The Guyanese arrived here Wednesday afternoon and turned up yesterday morning in bright sunshine only to find an under-prepared pitch which resulted in some of the batsmen not taking the risk to bat.

Coach Albert Smith, skipper Neil McGarrell and vice captain Mahendra Nagamootoo were very critical of the practice conditions with Nagamootoo opting not to bat on a two-paced track with unpredictable bounce.

Smith said that at this level better practice facilities should be offered by the host country for regional matches.

"This is the highest level of cricket in the West Indies yet little interest is paid to proper practice conditions for the players, most of whom are on the verge of West Indies selection," he said.

"Practice makes perfect and if the practice conditions are poor it should not be too surprising if the standard of play in the regional competition is poor also," Smith told Stabroek Sport after yesterday's practice session.

Smith, who was the coach last year when Guyana rebounded from two outright defeats in their first two games to win the Busta International Shield, said his team is confident of doing well against Trinidad despite not being able to get in a proper net session yesterday.

"Everyone really wants to do well and start on the right foot unlike last year. Confidence is really high in the camp and I am pleased with our overall preparation in Guyana. I must thank the Guyana Cricket Board for approving the preparation programme we gave to them and I feel the three-week camp served it's purpose," Smith disclosed.

The coach said the first week dealt with fitness while during the second week the mental aspect of the game was addressed. He added that the technical aspect of the game was looked at during the final week of preparation, which included a three-day practice game.

West Indies pacers Reon King and Colin Stuart should share the new ball in today's game with spin support from test players McGarrell and Nagamootoo.

Smith says he hopes the batsmen get themselves organised in the middle and learn to bat long and build big scores.

"I was disappointed with the batting in the practice match and I know all the batsmen have talent but they need to pay more attention to the mental aspect of their batting and their shot selection," the coach noted.

"Yesterday it was a bit of a set back since the poor pitch prevented the batsmen from working on their timing and confidence.

"The ball was doing all sorts of things ... this also affected the bowlers. The fast bowlers could not run in and bowl fast because it would have been too dangerous for the batsmen," Smith lamented.

Wicket-keeper Vishal had to keep on a helmet due to the unpredictable nature of the pitch and none of the batsmen seemed comfortable batting on the dusty surface.

There were no nets provided which resulted in the players having to expend extra energy in retrieving balls which passed the wicketkeeper. While the players did some catching practice, the fielding session had to be called off due to the rough outfield.

Former Guyana youth off spinner Sean Devers and ex-Berbice senior inter county swing bowler Luke Latiff practiced with the Guyana team yesterday.

With the Guaracara pitch expected to play low and slow favouring spin as the match progresses, pacer Reon Griffith could have to wait a while longer to make his regional first class debut for Guyana after playing two games for the West Indies 'B' team last year.

With the batting a bit shaky, Krishna Arjune, the third opener in the squad, could make his first class debut for Guyana. Arjune played for the Windies 'B' team last year.

Arjune, overlooked by the Guyana selectors last year, scored 375 runs from seven matches and his unbeaten 109 against Trinidad at Guaracara Park should be taken into account when the tour selectors pick the final eleven this morning.

With Azeemul Haniff and Sewnarine Chattergoon expected to open the batting, Arjune could bat at three in the order, ahead of Lennox Cush, Travis Dowlin, Andre Percival, Mc Garrell, the Nagamootoo brothers and the pacers Stuart and King.

On paper the Guyana batting looks good with each of the specialist batsmen in the squad except Percival and Pooran having scored a century at this level. The poor shot selection from most of the batsmen in recent times and their inability to get a proper "knock" yesterday could be causes for some concern in the Guyana camp.

Griffith and Homchand Pooran could be the two players on the bench for Guyana today while pacer Theodore Modeste and opening batsman Imran Jan could be the two players in the Trinidad and Tobago not playing today.

Jan, who scored his maiden first class century in last year's competition, is still suffering from an injured ankle and is likely to miss the first round of the competition.

Lively West Indies youth pacer Ravi Ramphal should share the new ball with test pacer Marlon Black with support from Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo. West Indies leg spinner Dinanath Ramnarine and the experienced off- spinner Mukesh Persaud should provide the spin for the home team.

Skipper Daren Ganga should open the batting with the attacking Andy Jackson while former test player Lincoln Roberts, Bravo, Simmons and Zaheer Alli should all lend support with the bat.

Guyana, missing test batsmen Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, are hunting their eight regional title while Trinidad and Tobago won the last of their four title 18 years ago under the captaincy of Ranjie Nanan.

When these two teams last met, Guyana won by five wickets at Albion in the 2002 competition. Haniff, Chattergoon, Chanderpaul and McGarrell all scored half centuries in that game while Nagamootoo and McGarrell were the main wicket takers for Guyana.

Today's game starts at 10:00am and GBC is expected to carry live ball-by-ball commentary of the game.

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