Saturday, May 21, 2016

Guyana Independence XI - 1966 to 2016

In observance of Guyana’s 50th anniversary of Independence, a few persons have been trying their hand at selecting a Guyana team of players from 1966 to present day. As with any such exercise, the debates have been intense and inevitably, emotions have run high. After some thought, I decided I would join in the fun and throw my hat in the ring.

I decided that the first thing that needs to be done is to lay out the criteria. My team would include two opening batsmen; three middle-order batsmen; an all-rounder; a wicket-keeper; two spinners; and two fast bowlers. Players would be assessed based on returns for West Indies and Guyana, and performances after 1966. This policy could see batsmen who might be considered superior to an opener being left out simply because I wanted batsmen who plied their trade as openers and not men who ‘could do the job”.

The next thing I did was identify those who are sure picks; who are without doubt Guyana’s finest performers. It’s a brave person who argues that these men cannot walk into any Guyana All Time XI unopposed. These consisted of our number one opening batsman, Roy Fredericks; the man considered by many as our best ever batsman, Rohan Kanhai; our most prolific, Shivnarine Chanderpaul; the West Indies most successful captain, Clive Lloyd; our best fast bowler, Colin Croft; and former record-holder for Test wickets, off-spinner Lance Gibbs.

That left me with five spots to fill. I needed an opening bat, an all-rounder, a wicket-keeper, a spinner and a fast bowler. First up was the opener. I considered Stephen Comacho, Andrew Lyght and Clayton Lambert. Comacho and Lyght (who didn’t play Tests) both averaged in the mid-30s for Guyana, while Comacho and Lambert averaged around the 30 mark in Tests. Where Lambert separates himself from the others is in his returns for Guyana. The burly left-hander amassed 4680 runs at an average of 48.75 with 14 centuries. His aggregate is second only to Chanderpaul, while his tally of centuries is bettered only by Chanderpaul (17), and Fredericks (15).

The next position to fill was that of the all-rounder where Carl Hooper and Roger Harper were the players in contention. Hooper, because of his superior batting and his ability to bowl both off-spin and medium-pace, got the nod. The wicket-keeping spot was also an easy one, because even though older heads claim Geoffrey Murray was phenomenal in my opinion Milton Pydanna was the best gloveman of those in contention. For over a decade he was our number one stumper and it was only his inability to perform with the bat, when others like David Murray and Jeffrey Dujon were doing the opposite, which restricted him to three one-day internationals over two tours. Of the keepers I’ve seen Kenneth Wong and Vishal Nagamootoo (second to Pydanna in the number of dismissals) deserve honorable mention.

The choice of fast bowler was not as easy with a number of credible contenders coming to the fore. Reon King, Colin Stuart, Barrington Brown and Lynden Joseph are some of the names that came to mind. Of them Joseph and Stuart were the most aggressive although Joseph’s tally of 67 wickets at 27.74 was the lowest. Stuart’s was the next lowest with 81 at 35.01. Browne was slightly more economical than King – his 111 wickets costing 25.93 to King’s 149 at 26.61. My vote went to King because of his relative success at the Test level and the pace advantage he has over Browne.

The choice of a second spinner was a straight fight between off-spinner Clyde Butts and leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo. Their Tests records are pretty similar and they were both prolific wicket-takers for Guyana, the top two in fact. Nagamootoo claimed a record 331 at 27.45 while Butts ended with what was then also a record 274 at 22.41. In the end I went for Nagamootoo for the variety he brings since Gibbs and Hooper are also off-spinners.

So there you have it. My team for Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence: Roy Fredericks, Clayton Lambert, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Carl Hooper, Milton Pydanna, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Colin Croft, Lance Gibbs and Reon King. The reserves are Butts, Basil Butcher and Alvin Kallicharran. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I remember Tony Cozier

Tony Cozier died today! The shocking words came via WhatsApp from a friend who lives in Barbados. That same friend had posted, a few weeks earlier, a photograph taken with Cozier as they took in a cricket match in which my friend’s son was involved. My reaction then was that Tony didn’t look as robust as I had grown accustomed to seeing him but not even that prepared me for this latest news. After all, he was still churning out columns up until the beginning of the month! I didn’t doubt my friend but I made some checks of my own and confirmed that the man, who had become a legend in cricketing circles, was no more.

It took a while for this news to “sink in” and then I started reminiscing. I remembered the first time I listened to a cricket match on the radio, the 1979 World Cup final, and was so enamored I looked forward to hearing more – of him and compatriot Reds Perreira.  I must admit Cozier was the one I looked forward to hearing more than any other. I felt I was in the sunny stands in Australia, or gloomy England, or wherever else he chose to follow the West Indies. He was clear, concise, drafted in stats without breaking stride, had a sense of humor, and most importantly had an accent I could understand. I can still remember asking my cousin “who is Desmond Hinds?” when the West Indies went Down Under after the same World Cup. It was only when the Aussie commentator gave way to Tony I realized the player in question was in fact Desmond Haynes.

I remembered later on looking forward to his Sunday columns and match coverage in the Stabroek News, even though it was the “competition” to my employers the Guyana Chronicle. And why not? He was the foremost authority on cricket in the West Indies. His columns were used as a point of reference in many an argument and he invariably selected teams even before selectors sat down to think about it.

I remembered his West Indies Cricket Annual (a most prized possession) which covered every aspect of the regional game from 1970 to 1991; and the Caribbean Cricket Quarterly, which I was honored to be associated with. I remembered feeling proud to have him commentate on a game in which I was involved as a player, and having him refer to me as “one of us”. (I have that tape).
His physical presence is no longer with us but his legend lives on. The doyen of Caribbean cricket journalism he will always be. Rest In Peace Tony Cozier.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Suriname pip Argentina for ICC Americas U/19 crown

The victorious Suriname team

It was my intention to cover the ICC Americas Pepsi Under-19 Division 2 tournament in its entirety (August 14-16), but my chivalrous spirit rendered me immobile for the three days and consigned me to collecting scores whenever I could. I did however see enough on the opening day to realize that the battle for top honours would be between eventual winners Suriname and Argentina. The other teams, hosts the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, were evidently in the developmental stages of their youth programs.

In the double round tournament Argentina and Suriname split their matches and so it came down to which one of them could record the biggest margins of victories on the other two. Given the inexperience of the Bahamian side, many of whom were playing the game for the first time; it came as no surprise that they felt the brunt of the Argentine and Surinamese efforts to claim top spot. The Argentines took first crack when on the first day they amassed 260 for four from their allotted 20 overs at the Haynes Oval. Tomas Marinozzi, later named the tournament’s Best Wicket-keeper, slammed 109 before Lorenzo Altuzarra claimed three wickets to help restrict the Bahamas to 46 when their overs ran out.
Going into the final matches on the third afternoon Argentina led Suriname on net run rate (NRR) but the Surinamese would have fancied their chances since they were playing the Bahamas. They duly won the toss at Windsor Park and chose to bat, amassing 232 for five from their 20 overs. Joshua Holder, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, slammed an unbeaten 129 which came from 71 balls and included 10 fours and seven sixes. The hapless Bahamians, who failed to win a game in the tournament, were dismissed for their lowest total, 19, to lose by 213 runs. Xavier Smith claimed five wickets for seven runs from four overs. Over at the Haynes Oval Cayman could only muster 53 after being asked to bat first. Argentina tried valiantly to boost their (NRR) but were stretched out before reaching their target in seven overs. Thus Suriname’s huge victory pushed their NRR past Argentina’s, giving them the title and promotion to Division 1.

Holder was also named Best Batsman for scoring 219 runs and Best Bowler for taking 13 wickets – including five for nine in the second round game against the Cayman Islands.

Bahamas coach Gregory Taylor Jr. explained after the tournament that although the results were disappointing it was a good experience for his charges who were being put in match situations for the first time. He was however optimistic that they would improve given the plans he has in store. The Bahamas team, which included 11-year-old Cody Dean Jnr. only managed to past 50 twice with the highest score being 58 in the second round against the Cayman Islands. Skipper Nandkhumar Jagroo, who incidentally won the only Man-of-the-Match award for the Bahamas, is also the only player that consistently appears in the local league but, according to Taylor, all that is going to change.
 Bahamas coach Gregory Taylor Jr. 

Below are some more videos capturing the final moments of the second Suriname/Argentina game at Haynes Oval on Friday afternoon
 Argentina's Lorenzo Altuzarra bowls Suriname's Joshua Holder around his legs

Altuzarra and Xaviee Smith involved in some byplay before the Argentine gets his man

And finally the winning run!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bahamas name team for ICC Americans U19

Hosts the Bahamas have named their team for the Pepsi ICC Americans Under-19 Division Two championship which begins Thursday in Nassau. Selected after weeks of preparation under coach Gregory Taylor Jnr., the 14-man will be captained by 16-year-old left-arm spinner Nankhumar Jagroo and consists of six batsmen, four specialist bowlers, three all-rounders, and a wicket-keeper/batsman. Two of the players are from the country’s second city – Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Photo of Nankhumar Jagroo
Nankhumar Jagroo
The Bahamas will be vying for championship honours alongside the Cayman Islands, Suriname and Argentina at the Haynes Oval and Windsor Park with the 20-over matches being played simultaneously, from 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  All of the home team’s first round games are set for the Haynes Oval, beginning with the Cayman Islands on Thursday at 10:00. Argentina are next in the afternoon and Suriname on Friday morning. Conversely, all their second round games take place at Windsor Park where they oppose the Caymans at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, Argentina on Saturday morning, and Suriname in the afternoon. 

Team Bahamas: Nandkumar Jagroo (captain), Cody Dean Jr., Ahjlon Dames, Kapry Kemp Jr., Chavez Mcphee, Marcus Bowe, Sharano Kemp, Stephen Fox, Lee Melville Jr., Anthony Mcfarlane, Kaynaan Longley (Freeport), Raphael Simon (Freeport), Xavier Rhone (wicket-keeper), and Munir Gharbhan. Coach: Gregory Taylor Jnr.

Monday, July 14, 2014

TMP Pacesetters are BCA 40-over champs!

The victorious TMP Pacesetters

The Medical Pavilion Pacesetters are champions of the Bahamas Cricket Association (BCA) 40-over competition. They achieved this feat with an emphatic 141-run defeat of St. Albans in the final on Saturday at the Haynes Oval on Bay Street.

Pacesetters’ triumph was engineered by a sterling all-round performance from Ryan Tappin who hit 88 in his team’s 278 for seven in 40 overs, and captured four wickets for 34 runs as St. Albans fell for 136 in 27. Tappin was supported in the batting department by Renford Davson (51), Donovan Matthews (45), Jonathon Barry (43), and skipper Albert Peters (29), after Pacesetters won the toss and chose to bat. Davson and Matthews posted 100 in 17 overs for the first wicket while the others ensured a solid scoring rate was maintained for the remainder of the innings. For St. Albans medium pacer Leonard Dorsett claimed two wickets for 33 runs from four overs, while left-arm spinner Nankhumar Jagroo had two for 78 from eight. 

St. Albans’ innings was highlighted by Andre Dos Ramos’ 67. His only support however, came from Brent Fullerton who scored 22 in a third wicket stand of 44. Tappin, whose leg-breaks undermined St. Albans’ batting was supported by medium-pacers Lee Melville and Barry who captured two for 40 and two for 45 respectively. 

Saturday’s win means Pacesetters, in their first season in the league, are now double champions after capturing the BCA’s T20 title earlier this year.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pacesetters, St. Alban to meet in BCA final

Pacesetters and St. Alban will meet in the final of the Bahamas Cricket Association’s (BCA) 40-over competition after winning their respective semi-finals over the weekend. Pacesetters cruised past Westerns by four wickets on Saturday, while St. Alban upset highly favoured St. Agnes by 53 runs on Sunday, at Haynes Oval on Bay Street.

Andrew Nash
Pacesetters’ win was accomplished despite a swashbuckling century by Westerns’ Andrew Nash, who slammed seven sixes and nine fours in 104 as his team posted a modest 210 in 33.1 of the allotted 40 overs. His only support came from Orlando Clarke who made 37 in the face of some controlled bowling, led by Lee Melville with three for 38. Mark Levy also claimed three for 49 and Ryan Tappin two for 13. Pacesetters’ reply of 213 for six in 32.1 overs was highlighted by Kevin Surujlal’s 71, and contributions of 29 each from skipper Albert Peters and Jonathon Barry. For Westerns, Nash claimed two for 29, Wycliff Atkinson two for 42 and Gregory Irving two for 49.

Sunday’s game was highlighted by outstanding performances from two teenagers on opposing sides. Eighteen-year-old off-spinner Earl Thomas III grabbed five wickets for 41 runs as St. Agnes dismissed St. Alban for 217 in 38.4 overs. However, 16-year-old left-arm spinner Nankhumar Jagroo responded with four for 51 as St. Agnes, batting one man short, ended on 164 for nine in 32 overs. In the St. Alban innings Julio Jamieson hit 52, Andre Dos Ramos 42 and Brent Fullerton 29 in the face of Thomas’ attack. John Dolphin supported Thomas with two for 37. When St. Agnes batted Turan Brown led the way with 46 while Dolphin made 44 and Jagnauth Jagroo 25. Nankhumar Jagroo, who dismissed both his cousin and Dolphin, was well supported by Dos Ramos with three for 25.

The final is set for Saturday at the same venue. Starting time is 12:00 noon.