Guyana Jaguars ended the season as the only unbeaten team to join Barbados (1977-1980) and Jamaica (2008-2012) as the only teams to win the Regional First-Class tournament for four consecutive seasons when they beat T&T’s Red Force by an innings and 81 runs on the final day of this year’s CWI Regional Four-Day competition at Providence yesterday.
Scores: Red Force 135 & 324, Jaguars 540-9 declared.
The last time the two teams met in this tournament in Trinidad, the Jaguars roared to an innings and 217-run win.
Set 405 to avoid an innings defeat, the Red Force resumed on 282-8 with Jason Mohamed on 85 and in glorious sunshine a handful of die-hard supporters, including the families of some of the players, saw Mohammed cover-drive left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul to post his seventh hundred at this level with his sixteenth boundary.
Brian Charles (15) hit Kemo Paul for three fours, before he was bowled by Permaul for his 50th wicket in what has been a truly dominating season for the Leon Johnson led side.
Paul sent Anderson Phillips’ leg stump cart-wheeling leaving Mohammed unbeaten on 103.
Guyana’s victory was set up by Man-of-the-match, Bajan Raymon Reifer who joined Roger Harper (twice), Carl Hooper and Narsingh Deonarine as the only Guyanese to score a century and claim a five-wicket haul in the same game. Reifer’s unbeaten 108 also saw Guyana breaking the 47-year-old record of Guyana’s highest total (537) against T&T.
The Jaguars, who have played consistent team cricket with everyone contributing when it most mattered, have lost just three matches in their last 40 games; to Barbados and Leewards twice.
Anthony Bramble must surely now be a front runner for a West Indies ‘A’ team pick after once again emerging as the wicketkeeper with the most dismissals (45) and 613 runs including an unbeaten 196 and four fifties, while the 19-year-old Paul finished the most wickets (42) by a pacer in addition to scoring a hundred in the first match against Jamaica and finishing with a shot-filled 53 in this game.
Except for Chanderpaul Hemraj, all seven batsmen in the order have scored centuries with Vishaul Singh, who was rested for this game, scoring two and an unbeaten 97 in St Kitts.
Singh, Paul, Reifer, Shiv Chanderpaul, Johnson, Bramble and Tagenarine Chanderpaul have scored hundreds, while Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Hemraj have featured in two century opening partnerships.
Ironically Hemraj, who has not been able to convert any of his five fifties this season into hundreds, is Jaguars’ leading run-scorer with 623 runs.
While Permaul top the list of wickets and Paul has been the biggest find this season with the most wickets by a pacer, all of the Guyanese bowlers have taken at least 15 wickets, including Keon Joseph and Romario Shepherd who played just five matches each. This emphasises the team work shown by the CWI Jaguars Franchise.
Johnson is arguable the best leader in the West Indies presently and only Jamaican Tamar Lambert has more consecutive titles as Captain than Johnson with five.
Johnson finished with 575 runs with 165 and three half-centuries and if the very intelligent Johnson can be a bit more consistent and score a few more runs, at 31, he still has time on his side to become a future West Indies Test Captain.
While Johnson has led with his astute leadership, the Manager who doubles as assistant Coach, Rayon Griffith and head Coach Esuan Crandon have played important roles in Guyana’s four-year dominance of Regional First-Class Cricket, while the hard work of the physiotherapist, Cuban born Ernesto in keeping the players fit cannot be overlooked.
Of course nothing is perfect and the inability to polish off the tail after blowing away the top order and the at times the faulty shot selection by the batsmen are areas that should be worked on.
But overall the local Franchise Tournaments organised by CGI has contributed to the Jaguars’ success since it keeps the fringe players fit and ready if required.
The performance of the Guyana players must be looked at by the West Indies selection panel which include former West Indies batsman Guyanese Travis Dowlin when they sit to pick ‘A’ and senior teams.
In 1983 under Clive Lloyd and in 1997 under Roger Harper, Guyana won the ‘double’ but Guyana has not won a 50-title since 2005.
As the Jaguars head into the Regional Super50 this month end it is hoped that batsmen demonstrate the type of positivity needed in 50-over cricket and Guyana can win the double in Antigua.