By Sean Devers (Kaieteur News)
Leon Jonson returns to the helm after missing Guyana’s first three games due to a knee injury but injured Ramnaresh Sarwan and pacer Ronsford Beaton are still unavailable as Guyana face-off with the Combined Colleges and Campuses (CCC) today from today at the 3Ws Oval in Barbados.
The fourth round match in the 2014 Regional First Class cricket tournament is a day/night affair which starts at 15:00hrs and the Guyanese will be desperate for their first win of the season to keep their semi-finals hopes alive. However, CCC, led by Guyanese Steven Jacobs, will hope to get the better of the South Americans in their own back yard. Both teams can get a maximum 20 points from this game.
The good news for Guyana is that (CCC) trail at the bottom of the points table in this year’s tournament and Guyana beat them in their last two matches at this level. The bad news is that in seven meetings between the teams the students have won three of those encounters against Guyana’s two with the other two ending in draws.
Guyana lost to Jamaica at Sabina Park and defending Champs Barbados at Providence while earning a draw with the Windward Islands in the last match at the same venue and has batted poorly in the seven-team tournament so far.
Only once have they passed 200 in their first and only twice in six innings. A of maximum five bonus batting points are awarded for scores over 200 in the first innings and Guyana has only managed a single batting point so far. They are in penultimate position on the points table with 13 points.
CCC have played one match less than Guyana and are on 10 points from a loss to Leeward Islands and a draw with Barbados. Shacaya Thomas, Kyle Corbin, Chadwick Walton and Raymon Reifer are the only batsmen to reach half- centuries for the Barbados based team.
The experienced Floyd Reifer has the most tons (4) for CCC since the students first participated at the Regional First-Class level in 2008 but this year the former West Indies Captain has just managed six runs from his only match while Jacobs has failed to build on starts with his highest score being 23. The Ex-Windies Under-19 Skipper will be hoping he reserves his best performance for his countrymen.
Off-spinner Ryan Austin, who also played Test cricket, is their leading wicket taker with nine scalps while leg spinner Akeem Dewar is next with eight victims. They will hope to get support from Raymon Reifer, Jacobs, Keswick Williams, Kevin McClean and Jamal Warrican with the ball.
Guyana’s main worry this season is their lack of positivity and poor shot selection. This has prevented them from earning more batting points with most of the batsmen getting out after doing all the hard work as wickets usually fell in a cluster.
The left-handed Johnson has been in good form in the Regional Super50 tournament and his entertaining batting is most welcome in a team of accumulators in Assad Fudadin, Taignarine Chanderpaul and his prolific father Shiv Chanderpaul.
Narsingh Deonarine, one of five left-handers in the top five in the order, seemed to have regained his confidence and some degree of form after enduring a wretched run in his previous three matches where he scored four ducks, including a double duck against Barbados.
Apart from the 39-year-old Shiv Chanderpaul, who has the most centuries by a Guyanese in the tournament, Deonarine is the most senior batsman and the only one to score a 1,000 runs in a season for Guyana when he recorded 1,068 runs in 2009. He and Shiv Chanderpaul could be CCC’s biggest threat with the bat.
Chris Barnwell is full of talent and very aggressive but has to pick his shots if he wants get three figure scores. Wicket-keeper Anthony Bramble has looked good but gifted his wicket when well set while Test spinners Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo could both contribute with the bat at this level. The other batsman in the squad is Chanderpaul Hemraj, who surprisingly replaces Vishaul Singh, who made 73 against Jamaica.
On what should be a lot faster track than the one at Providence, 6ft 5inch pacer Raun Johnson should regain his place and share the new ball with fellow West Berbice pacer Keon Joseph, who bowled too short on the slow pitches in Guyana.
Despite an impressive debut against Barbados, Johnson was drooped as Guyana opened with spin from both ends in the second innings against the Windward Islands.
Left-arm spinner Permaul has 22 wickets from three matches including his first 10 wicket-match haul while his Albion team mates Bishoo and Deonarine have offered useful spin support. Barnwell and Fudadin could also lend medium pace back-up for the Guyanese who hunt their seventh title and first since 1998 when they shared it with the Leewards.