Guyanese players flocking T&T for dollars
But is this helping their cricket development?
By Sean Devers
May 1, 2003
A large number of Guyanese cricketers continue to perform well in Trinidad in various levels of local competition on the Island but having experienced the culture of Trinidad club cricket one wonders if this is really helping their own cricket development.
Over the past few years more and more cricketers from Guyana have landed professional and semi-professional contracts to play in the extremely commercialized club structure in the Twin Island Republic.
Players in Guyana are not paid to play at the club level while the non-first class players earn just two thousand Guyana dollars per day to play in the senior Inter-County four-day competition.
This, plus the fact that many young players, especially those in the rural area, neglect their education and find it difficult to obtain a good job in Guyana’s tough economic environment after they leave school have caused many talented young players to seek greener pastures away from Guyana.
Canada, USA and now Trinidad have become the hunting grounds for many Guyanese cricketers looking to make a few dollars from playing the game they love.
The exposure of playing in different conditions and playing for US, Canadian or T&T dollars is the up side. The down side is that the standard of cricket is not high enough to properly prepare the young players mentally and physically for the pressure of cricket at the highest level.
The inability of many Guyanese to get English County or League contracts or to get into the Australia or South Africa first class competition leaves them with little option but to play in Canada and USA where only one-day cricket is played on weekends.
In Trinidad the ‘club culture’ is generally one which has very little respect for hard work, long practice hours and total dedication to the game.
It is not too surprising that Trinidad and Tobago has failed to win a regional first class competition in 18 years.
The overseas players quickly realize that they have to work on their own if they want to improve their game since, even at the National One level, many players fail to attend practice session during the week when they have to work.
In the lower divisions, an overseas player who is above that level can become complacent with his good performances and earnings and lose focus on working hard to develop his game.
The young player, who in many cases lives on his own and has not been exposed to such freedom before, can easily be tempted to indulge in the active nightlife which is also very much a part of the Trinidad culture.
The massive Trinidad business entity support club cricket at all levels. Many wealthy businessmen own teams and even play at the lower level. Teams receive lucrative financial rewards for winning competitions and many clubs pay their overseas players in addition to providing accommodation and jobs for them.
This can cause a ‘comfort zone’ for the players who can become satisfied with this arrangement and are willing to stay with their club for more than one season even if the standard of cricket they play does nothing to develop their cricket.
Apart from the national one and two levels in Trinidad, the standard of cricket in Guyana (which has deteriorated over the last few years) is much higher than in Carnival Country. Many players who feel they have no real hope of playing for Trinidad just play for the fun of it and don’t take their cricket as seriously as they should. This results in the level of fielding and discipline at the club level being very low, especially at the lower divisions.
Of the close to 20 Guyanese playing this season in Trinidad, only Damador Dasrath, Hemnarine Chattergoon, Lennox Cush and Derwin Christian play at the National One level.
Dasrath has already scored a hundred for Clark Road United while Christian recorded a hundred in the under-21 competition for Central Sports.
Cush who also claimed a seven wicket-haul with his off spin and Chattergoon have also gotten a few half-centuries for Central Sports and Power Gen respectively.
Renrick Batson, Andrew Gonsalves, Ron Ramnauth, Deonauth Baksh, Lalchand Persaud and Azib Ally Haniff all play at the National Two division.
Gonsalves has registered two tons for Cova Sports, Haniff has posted three half-centuries for Munroe Road and Batson two fifties for Arangues.
Persaud is playing more as a batsman than off-break bowler and bats at number three in the order for Mayo Valley Boys.
Vishal Arjune and Royston Crandon are playing in the Super League division which is just below the division two level and last week-end Crandon blasted an explosive double-century (210) for Curipe Sports to take the spotlight over the week end.
In the North Zone league, which can be compared to the third division level in Guyana, DCC’s left handers Kapil Deo Singh and former Guyana under-19 skipper Troy Cornelius have been the top Guyanese performers.
The 24-year-old Singh, in his first season in Trinidad has already recorded three centuries and a 71 in the five games so far for Riversdale Sports Club, which is captained by former Berbice all-rounder Luke Latiff who now resides in Trinidad.
Cornelius, who played in the same division last year for Riversdale, scored 127 not out against Ebony last Saturday and has two centuries and two fifties for Dynamic Wonders. Shawn DeSouza, the GNIC player is also playing in the North Zone league.
The Trinidad season ends in May and only one overseas player at a time is allowed to play in any match. Most of the Guyana players have been invited back for the 2004 season.
Baksh is hoping to play in Barbados later in the year, Cush is heading to the USA, Chattergoon is hoping to leave for Canada and Cornelius is making arrangements to play in England next year.
West Indies cricket is at its lowest point in over three decades and if our players are not properly prepared at the school and club level, the young regional players will continue to be sub-standard.
Plans need to be put in place by the Guyana Cricket Board, the Clubs, the Government and the business community to keep Guyana’s talented youth cricketers at home where they can improve their game and still make a living.
This will prevent them from running off to Canada, USA and Trinidad to play (in most cases) sub standard cricket for a few dollars more.