By Akeem Greene
According to the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, the Regional Super50 will be held February 2-27 in Antigua and Barbuda.
They have also announced that West Indies limited overs captain Kieron Pollard will lead the Red Force, and they have also started training games where the likes of current West Indies batsman Evin Lewis and former ruler Ravi Rampaul has found form.
It is understood that Guyana Jaguars players have been training constantly and some have even recently had some game time since the Caribbean Premier League when they played in the US Open T20 Cup, which ended last Sunday.
Now while the Jaguars have embraced the clarity over the success of Four Days in recent years, having won five of the six titles in the lifetime of the Professional Cricket League, they have struggled to repeat that form in the 50-over format .
In fact, the battles date back much longer, because since October 2005, they last won a 50-over Divisional title when they lifted the KFC Cup in a rain-affected final against Barbados in Bourda.
That year, Ramnaresh Sarwan scored the most runs (462) in the tournament, spanning three centuries, while Mahendra Nagamootoo scored the most wickets for Guyana (12).
Recent tournament record
November 2019: Guyana failed to qualify for semis (finished third in the group)
February 2018: Lost semi-final to Windward Volcanoes by 52 runs (Method D / L)
October 2018: Missing final round for Combined Campuses and Colleges of six wickets
The question now is who will the Selectmen Chairman Rayon Griffith choose for this campaign? Let’s take a look at some prospects.
If there hadn’t been a COVID-19, the 50-over Cricket Guyana Inc. tournament, which would have allowed the majority to better gauge who deserves a spot, would be form-based.
With the West Indies touring Bangladesh for three one-day Internationals and two Test matches, the last of which begins on February 11, people like Keemo Paul and Shimron Hetmyer are likely to lose games in the first half of the Super50, as they have become regular faces in both squads.
A combined squad of around 25 people is expected to be selected next week for that tour.
Now back to the Jaguars.
West Indies ODI batsman Chandrapaul Hemraj, once fully fit, should almost choose himself. He is the only player with more than one century in the last three editions (October and February 2018, and November 2019), and no doubt adds impetus to the batting.
Over those tournaments, he averages 30.05, after accumulating 571 runs, in 20 flyovers, one of which was an unbeaten 103 * in October 2018.
In the last tournament he made 202 runs, of which he made a hundred, but his strike rate, unlike the previous two seasons where he was more than 90, was 68.47.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul and newcomer Kemol Savory were given the responsibility at the top of the order, and while both managed some success, their strike rates were the main concern – both were under 50.
Trevon Griffith, who last played during the October 2018 tournament, is an option the selectors have chosen, and there is a choice on left field of asking wicket keeper batsman Anthony Bramble to open the batting or a fresh offer in the form of India ‘ r West. Under-19 opener, Raymond Perez.
Another name worth mentioning is West India under-19 player Kevlon Anderson.
At some point in time, the injection of the younger flowering talent from the CGI Academy will need to learn while the elderly are still present.
Since it is highly unlikely that Hetmyer will be available, at least for the first round of games, the 33-year-old Leon Johnson will become a key figure, as a likely captain and batsman.
Interestingly, Johnson is the only other player to have a century in the last three tournaments – he made 101 in the October 2018 tournament- but he has a fine patch given his experience and class.
In that tournament in 2018, he made 222 runs at an average of 31.71 and a decent strike rate of 73.02.
During the February 2018 outing, he had 193 runs at an average of 27.57 with the highest of 99, however, last year his best score after eight flyovers was 43 out of the 147 runs accumulated at an average of 18.37.
Some have called for a change in the leadership guard to possibly bring about a change in fate, but if you look at the long-term development of a leader, the options are limited with the possible absence of Hetmyer.
The 30-year-old Bramble is usually the lieutenant, while Veerasammy Permaul and Christopher Barnwell have been captains in the past. Given the current circumstances, it is unlikely that those calls will be answered.
Barnwell seems to be another automatic choice in this squad.
Over the past three seasons, the 33-year-old has been the team’s most productive and consistent batsman by far.
Its aggregate from 2018 is 873 runs at an average of 45.94 and a top of 99 * and a strike rate over 88, to go along with seven half-centuries.
Last season it reached the Jaguars batting charts with 351 runs at an average of 43.87 and a strike of 99.71.
A more prudent approach has brought him success, but certainly with some of those half-centuries bordering on the 100 mark, he would want to score the Century maiden List for this upcoming tournament.
West Indies player Sherfane Rutherford is not contracted by the Jaguars, but can still represent on a pay-for-play basis.
He was absent from last year’s tournament, but in the previous two editions, has been an effective player with skill and overall floor in the batting order.
A total of 321 runs averaging 29.18, a strike rate of over 88 plus six wickets over those two seasons, makes him another valuable player if the selectors take that route. That average is one area he would want to improve.
Johnathon Foo would feel he had done enough to reserve a spot given his heroes last season.
He averaged 55.56 – the team’s best – and was the second leading run scorer – 331 runs – which came at a strike rate of 113.12.
The Berbican cracked an unbeaten 97 from 92 balls with six fours and a top four in a losing case against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.
The All-rounders and Bowlers
Raymon Reifer has been a regular in the West Indies Test group, but over the last two trips, he has been in reserves.
However, for this trip to Bangladesh, there will be no separate back-up squad, as they will use the ODI players to cover if there are injuries to the Test players.
He suggests, Reifer could be present for the entire tournament, and a player with his experience would certainly be appreciated.
In seven games last year, he had 172 runs and taken 10 wickets, the second-most for Jaguars.
Romario Shepherd’s feats against New Zealand A in the two Four-Day matches may see him break into the Test squad, or he might be on the 50-over side and be asked to stay on as a cover.
If the latter does not happen, Shepherd’s choice for this tournament is undisputed given his genealogy.
If he is absent, he could pave the way for the return of his teammate Clinton Pestano, who would miss the entire 2020 Four-Day season due to a knee injury.
Over the past few months, he has been seen to increase his level of output in gym work, indicating that he is back to full fitness, at least for white ball cricket.
He only played four games last season and got two wickets, but it was October 2018, where he showed his value with 15 wickets at 18.00 and an economy rate of 4.21
Another trump card in its format is Kevin Sinclair, which is non-spinning.
The 21-year-old offers the ability to bowl in the Powerplay with the new ball and be misleading as it was last year when he played for eventual champions, West Indies Emerging Players.
The economy got me the best of the entire tournament – 2.87 – and took 13 wickets at an average of 14.69. He also made 132 runs in seven flyovers.
Veerasammy Permaul, who grabbed the most number of -11 wickets – for Jaguars last season, will lead the attack, unless he receives an unexpected call for the Test tour, given it’s sub-continental conditions .
Gudakesh Motie or Ramaal Lewis? That must be a question that appears at the selection meeting.
In terms of numbers alone, there would be hard pressure on the first as the Jamaican Lewis, who is a spinner and handy lower batsman, has scored 28 wickets in his last 20 goals (the last three seasons), and done in average under 21 and the economy rate under five.
Motie missed both tournaments in 2018, but played four games last year and took two wickets.
It will be an interesting call on either as there are already two frontline starters, offering that skill set.
It must be noted, Ashmead Neath will play for the Leeward Island Hurricanes contracted franchise.
Nail Smith, who made his first appearance last year, is one of the options for the fast sailor position as Keon Joseph has not played A-list cricket since 2010.
Ronsford Beaton, who played six games last year and received seven wickets, before reporting his act and finding it illegal, appears to have cleared that barrier as he played in the US Open T20 Cup and recently approved by ICC.
However, no official announcement has been made on whether he is being cleared for bowling.
Ronaldo Alimohamed, another potential youngster, made his first appearance last season when he replaced Beaton.
There are some experiments the selectors could take when looking at similarities to Quinton Sampson, who scored some explosive runs in the final domestic 50-overs for Essequibo or a reminder of Ricardo Adams, who played in both tournaments in 2018.
The headache lies in the impossibility of any domestic 50-over tournament before February, meaning that past success is the key to selection.
There is still uncertainty about who is actually available to choose, but whenever that is revealed, it will be interesting to see who makes up the 14-man squad.