“A Professional Cricket League is a must if West Indian players are to be developed for international engagement.”
Those sentiments were expressed by West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Director and Secretary of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), Anand Sanasie, during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times Sport on Monday, as he spoke extensively on the WICB’s Professional Cricket League (PCL) Four-day regional competition and the unprecedented success of the Guyana Jaguars franchise.
In 2014, the WICB introduced the PCL as a means of professionalising the structure of the regional first-class competition, with the six traditional territories operating under a franchise system. Players are selected through a Draft, and the format is a ‘home and away.’
Reflecting on this new initiative by the WICB, Sanasie reasoned that the PCL is something that is absolutely necessary if West Indies cricket is to rise from the depths that it has descended to over the past two decades.
“Strong regional cricket is the only way we can regain the glory days, so by all means the League must be sustained. Everyone agrees that it is at a tremendous cost, but our regional cricketers can now earn a living doing what they love to do and not have to worry about how they will maintain their families or pay a mortgage,” he explained.
Sanasie continued, “Only time will tell how successful it is; [but] sustaining this venture is a must and West Indies Players Association should be complimented for coming onboard with the WICB on this most important developmental aspect. I am sure it can be sustained.”
There is the perception in some quarters that the traditional regional first-class was just rebranded PCL, and that much has not changed in terms of the standard of regional cricket. It is a notion that Sanasie does not agree with, pointing out that “some level of improvement is already evident.”
“I firmly believe that the PCL is different; being handsomely paid is not a simple thing. Players are now contracted to their franchises and must meet performance requirements, at least in the case of Guyana Jaguars. In time, all West Indian players should be required to play in the PCL when they are not on active international duties,” Sanasie outlined.
He continued, “This will enhance the tournaments and make it competitive while exposing our youngsters to a higher level of cricket through the presence of the senior players. Here again, the PCL is only in its second edition and I personally think that some level of improvement is already evident, so let’s wait and see what difference it has made in about three years. What I can say now is, it had already made a lot of difference to Guyana’s cricket.”
Aligning itself with the structure of the WICB, the GCB this year discarded of the Senior Inter-county competition and replaced it with a Local Franchise League 50-over tournament, and this League format will be rolled out at all levels going forward.
Guyana Jaguars success.
Since the introduction of the PCL, the Guyana Jaguars have been a dominant force, winning the first edition comfortably, and are now seemingly on course to retaining the title.
In the inaugural season in 2014-15, the Guyana Jaguars finished on 148 points from 10 games, including eight victories. It was Guyana’s first regional first-class title since 1998 when they shared the President’s Cup with the Leeward Islands.
After the first five rounds of the 2015-16 season, the Guyana Jaguars have already surged to the top of the table with 85 points, garnered from five wins in an unbeaten campaign to date. Barbados Pride lie in second position with 63 points, followed by Jamaica Scorpions (53), Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (37), Windward Islands Volcanoes (29) and Leeward Islands Hurricances (13).
Commenting on the success of the Guyana franchise, Sanasie said the accomplishments of the team can be attributed to a combination of factors.
“About four years ago, the GCB decided to ensure that players attain and maintain a certain fitness standard- at one point using military trainers. Players started to understand that as professional athletes one’s physical and medical fitness is essential for maximum performance. A combination of administrative, coaching and local tournament initiatives also contributed to our continued success. We are hoping that the local franchise system can further enhance efforts to capture a wider talent base for our academy, another factor that contributed [to the success],” the cricket administrator highlighted.
While several players have made telling contributions during the current season, newcomer Gudakesh Motie has been the standout performer. The lanky left-arm spinner has emerged as the leading wicket-taker after five rounds, capturing 34 wickets at an average of 11.73 with four five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket maul haul.
Off-spinner Steven Jacobs and the experienced left-armer Veerasammy Permaul have picked up 19 and 17 wickets respectively, while all-rounder Christopher Barnwell has chipped in with a five-wicket haul.
In the batting department, the diminutive left-handed middle-order batsman, Vishaul Singh, is the Guyana Jaguars leading runscorer and the competition’s second highest run-getter behind Roston Chase of Barbados Pride.
Singh has chalked up 421 runs, 15 less than Chase, at an average of 60.14 with two hundreds. Skipper Leon Johnson is the second highest runscorer for Guyana Jaguars, with 275 runs at 39.28 with two fifties, while openers Assad Fudadin and Rajendra Chandrika have made a century each this season.
Currently, the PCL Four-day competition is on a break to accommodate the NAGICO Super50 regional tournament, which will bowl off on January 7. The Four-day version will resume on February 11.
(Taken from Guyana Times)