Jaguars should easily continue 4-Day dominance during 2019 leg
– 3rd round changes add more dimension to side
By Clifton Ross
Guyana Jaguars rang in a few changes ahead of round 3 as they prepare to continue their dominance when the 2018/19 Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional 4-Day Championships continue in the land of the fly-fish – Barbados next week.
2019 breaks with the defending champs resuming battle against the Barbados Pride from January 4, possibly fielding a new-look team with the confirmed inclusion of Test player Raymon Reifer and Windies One-Day International (ODI) opener Chandrapaul Hemraj.
Guyana won their opening rounds easily, thanks to a well-balanced side who were given impetus from their upcoming and veteran players, with Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Chris Barnwell, Vishaul Singh, Romario Shepherd, and
Veerasammy Permaul standing out as the most prominent match-winners to date.
However, with teams looking to overthrow the table-leaders when the tourney resumes in 2019, the Jaguars have tinkered with their selections as a result of a few unforeseen issues which could place them at a slight disadvantage given that other teams have welcomed back their international stars.
The Windies duo of Keemo Paul and Shimron Hetmyer have not been named in the team for the next round owing to the all-rounder picking up an injury during the Bangladesh T20 series, leaving the Jags without one of their match-winners from last season and a given x-factor.
Hetmyer, who recently made waves during his Indian Premier League (IPL) selection after being snapped up for more than US$500,000 by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), has opted to rest during the third round. The left-hander has had a tremendous year in international cricket, smashing hundreds against Bangladesh and India while starring during his first full season of Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The 22-year-old has been the Windies shining light in all formats this year, but his form, aggression and star-power will be extremely missed as the Jaguars seek to maintain their firm grip on the competition in search of their fifth title. Hetmyer’s absence hopefully will be short as his presence will be needed when Guyana tackle stiffer competition as the championships progress.
One huge plus for the Jaguars is the return of all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford, who is fresh off the Windies T20 Bangladesh series. The left-hander was one of
Guyana’s main weapons last season, having formed a strong young unit with Romario Shepherd and Paul. Rutherford’s stock as a power-hitter has risen significantly since his exploits during the 2018 Hero CPL, leading to his selection to the West Indies team.
Guyana’s inclusion of Hemraj, their leading run-scorer last season with more than 600 runs, is another huge plus as he and Chanderpaul could likely form a strong opening pair and continue from last season where they dominated. Another plus is Reifer’s inclusion which will compliment Barnwell.
Barnwell has been in great all-round from since the Regional Super50, with runs and wickets coming easily while Reifer has been spending a significant amount of time with the West Indies A and West Indies Test team. The left-arm seamer has been one of the Jags’ key figures since his drafting six seasons ago, also his tremendous batting form in the Super50 which saw him rack up six plus half-centuries could also lend to his more easygoing batting approach, which could further boost his team’s chances going forward.
In all, the Jaguars combination going into the second phase of the Championships seems a match-winning one with their leader, Leon Johnson continuing his excellent leadership role and his players, both seasoned and young, coming to the fore as Guyana chase another piece of regional 4-Day cricket history.