Picking the Guyana squad
LIVING CRICKET By Imran Khan
September 21, 2003
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Of the 14 man squad they are mandated to select, 9 are shoe-ins. They are Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Narsingh Deonarine, Lennox Cush, Neil McGarrell, Reon Griffith and the Nagamootoo brothers.
With the exception of Deonarine, all have been senior Guyana players who have had continued and successful runs regionally. This year should be Deonarine’s coming out party. His current form in the El Dorado Inter- County is encouraging and that 140 he tortured the world beating Australians for earlier this year is enough to make us slobber like anxious puppies.
Barring none, Deonarine is Guyana’s most crafty batsman. The left hander can outfox bowlers with his foot movements and tactics, deceive them into bowling to his strengths and disrupt their style. Along with Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Cush, Deonarine makes Guyana’s middle order second only to Jamaica’s Test-laden line up.
Chattergoon, the resolute, Chanderpaulesque opener from Berbice should lead Guyana’s batting from the top. ‘Chattas’ has proven his mettle as a quality opener who can assert himself and get under the opposition’s skin as he milks them for runs.
His starting partner is unlikely to cause much debate among the selection panel. Krishna Arjune should settle into that position on the basis of his compact front-foot prone approach. When there is a need for it, Arjune can unleash a volley of strokes, which can boost the run rate handsomely. His role should be more to carry on though, leaving the big hitting to the likes of Cush and the more accomplished players.
Another player who should make the squad without much trouble is Essequibo and former West Indies B team quickie Rayon Thomas. With the absence of Reon King, who is heading to South Africa to fulfil his contractual duties and Colin Stuart along with Kevin Darlington, Thomas’ golden opportunity is here.
Thomas is currently making a slight adjustment to his action in order to increase his already striking pace. Along with Griffith, Guyana will have a pace duo that may be short on experience but by no means are to be dismissed. They have all the goods to be a surprise combination as Guyana pursues gold in Zone B in Antigua.
Leggie Mahendra Nagamootoo and left armer Neil McGarrell are a feared combination throughout regional cricket. Again, Guyana’s bowling strengths lie mostly on their shoulders.
The younger Nagamootoo is unchallenged for the wicket-keeping position though Demerara keeper and heavy-handed batsman Derwin Christian can be an interesting pick to offer wicket keeping back-up and firepower with the bat. It is unlikely to be the case though.
So with the starting 11 determined who should be the three reserves?
The squad needs a standby opener. There are two contenders for this post since Azeemul Hanif and Andrew Gonsalves are away and unlikely to return. Ryan Ramdass and Essequibian Denesh Joseph are in a head-on clash to take the third opener spot.
Joseph is dashing, full of shots and gets on with the game from the time he takes his guard. This style can make him a sort of ‘miss or hit’ kind of batsman. Ramdass on the other hand is as solid as Arjune. He turns over the strike with ease and plays within the ‘V’ down the wicket as openers should. My pick would be Ramdass, though he would do most of the drink fetching duties.
Another batsman is needed. Travis Dowlin has maintained a place in the national team for some years now but over the past two turns of the calendar he has been unimpressive. With the quality batsmen on the local circuit it is difficult to see Dowlin getting a pick. If Carl Hooper decides to return then Dowlin’s place is surely doomed. Hooper though should not return to stifle Deonarine. Surely it will be the Berbician who will be out of the middle order for Hooper. Hoops has served Guyana well over the years, but his time is gone. All the arguments for him to return to guide our boys amount to little as whatever Hooper has to offer can best be done from the comfort of the dressing room and elsewhere beyond the boundary.
Hooper is very capable of returning and dominating with the bat and being as effective as he usually is with the ball. His current, bursting form in England would indicate that he could do it with ease. But Hooper and the GCB must know when to ‘fold’. It is time for Hoops to leave our cricket be and go his way in peace. Thank you for your wonderful years and memories, but that’s it. Let the youngsters gather themselves and learn the hard way. Another dilemma is that with Hooper in a Guyana team, Sarwan as captain will never be truly in charge. He will not be allowed to bloom, to explore and to be innovative. Given their history, Sarwan will always have at the back of his mind, ‘I wonder what Hoops thinks’. The last thing we want for the West Indies vice-captain, is for his captaincy style to be cramped by Hooper’s ultra-defensive, unimaginative guidelines.
So Dowlin has lost his place on the basis of his unremitting poor form. That leaves Hoomchand Pooran, Christian and Damodar Dasrat.
I would go for Dasrat, given that he is a genuine all- rounder. If he plays, the Berbician would be required to bat at about 6 or 7 where runs are needed quickly. He fits the bill for this. But more crucially he will give the attack flavour with his seamers. He is a lively cricketer who though not an effective restrainer when bowling, can mix it up and push in a few overs as may be needed.
There is one other position to complete the 14 man squad. It will have to be the fourth bowler. With the two top notch spinners and part-timers, Cush, Deonarine and Chattergoon the final bowler should most likely be a quicker bowler even though all the Zone B matches will be played at the Antigua Recreation Ground. The pitch did show some liveliness the last time Test cricket was played there.
Eion Katchay has returned and has expressed he’s interested in playing for Guyana, but he is by no means a natural pick. Playing in those curry goat leagues in Canada is by no means adequate preparation for the premier regional tournament.
Trevor Garraway, the former Demerara Under 19, now Essequibo pacer can come into contention, but Esaun Crandon who has already won himself a Guyana cap should round off the squad. He has some pace and is a useful lower order bat.
On the issue of captaincy I refuse to believe the rumors that senior members of the GCB are campaigning for Chanderpaul to lead the team even though Sarwan is the West Indies vice captain. I cannot believe that members would decidedly choose to slap the West Indies selectors and the WICB in their faces just to satisfy their overflowing egos. Stranger things though, have happened in West Indies cricket.
My Guyana RSB squad
1. R Sarwan - Captain
2. S Chanderpaul - Vice
3. S Chattergoon
4. N Deonarine
5. L Cush
6. K Arjune
7. R Ramdass
8. V Nagamootoo - Wicketkeeper
9. M Nagamootoo
10. N McGarrell
11. R Griffith
12. R Thomas
13. E Crandon
14. D Dasrat