Griffith seeing positive signs ahead of regional season
‒ more opportunities in pipeline for youth players
By Akeem Greene
Reigning three-time champions Guyana Jaguars will open their title defence of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Professional Cricket League (PCL) 4-Day Tournament against Jamaica Scorpions at the National Stadium, Providence on October 26.
In the quest for a fourth successive title, the champions have begun preparations early with their ongoing three-day franchise league and regular sessions with their contracted and academy players.
With preparations in full swing, Assistant Coach and Manager of the Guyana Jaguars, Rayon Griffith is enthused about the signs he has seen from the players.
“Plans have been going well for us. Since the competition finished [last year], we started training two weeks after until this day. The guys were lacking cricket given the weather we have had over the last couple of months, but I am very happy they are back playing cricket now,” he told Guyana Times Sport on Wednesday at the Everest Cricket Club.
Last season, the Jaguars only suffered two defeats and to some, it could be considered a breakthrough seasons for the youths. Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Clinton Pestano, Bhaskar Yadram, Sherfene Rutherford, and Chandrapaul Hemraj all were given opportunities and responded with commendable performances.
More so, with the core of the squad possibly set to miss the early rounds owing to West Indies senior team and A-team duty and to some extent, West Indies Under -19 preparation camps, it opens the door for others to make their mark.
“Those youths have always been talented and they were given that opportunity, and they represented themselves well and the country. A lot of guys will be missing the first two rounds, so a lot of youngsters will be given an opportunity,” the former First-Class player disclosed.
He added, “With the setup we have in Guyana, the door is open for these guys, we want to nourish them and maintain their presence in the regional programme.”
The litmus test for these players will be the current seven-franchise three-day league. While there are varying views on the level of cricket being produced, Griffith felt it essentially presents an opportunity for them to be actively involved in cricket.
“We can talk about the quality of the league. It might not be high as you want it, but it is still good enough. They are playing and they will learn because the environment has been created for them,” the Coach contended.
One new player in the squad is Jamaican all-rounder and former West Indies Under-19 Captain Ramaal Lewis, who has just one First-Class match under his belt.
“I have known him [Ramaal Lewis] for the past couple of years. I think he has a good head in knowing cricket and is a good all-rounder. We are lacking of that off-spinning all-rounder, so he can bring something to the table,” the 38-year-old stated.
At the draft held in July, Jaguars retained Leon Johnson, Tagnarine Chanderpaul, Anthony Bramble, Raymon Reifer, Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Veerasammy Permaul, Gudakesh Motie, and Keon Joseph. Rajendra Chandrika, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Ramaal Lewis, and Tevin Imlach were then selected. These players would be joined by Cricket West Indies-contracted players Devindra Bishoo, Vishaul Singh and Shimron Hetemyer. Only Assad Fudadin opted out for a contract to join the Scorpions.