ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – This year’s NAGICO Super50 Tournament opens this coming Thursday in Trinidad & Tobago.
As the second most successful side in the history of the tournament, the last seven years without a title will feel almost like an eternity for Guyana Jaguars.
But table-topping performances in the WICB Professional Cricket League Regional 4-Day Tournament at the end of last year has prompted optimism that they could end the drought.
The Jaguars play alongside the Combined Campuses & Colleges, Windward Islands Volcanoes and reigning champions Barbados Pride in Group “A”.
The first stage of the Tournament will be the group stage comprising a series of non-elimination matches in each group – each team will play every other team in its group – with two matches being contested daily at either the Queen’s Park Oval, the T&T Cricket Board’s National Cricket Centre in the central Trinidad community of Couva, or Shaw Park in Scarborough, the capital of Trinidad’s sister island Tobago.
Following the group stage, the top two teams in each group will progress to the semi-finals at the Oval, where the group winners play the runners-up from the opposite group in a one-off match for a place in the Grand Final on Sunday, January 25 at the same venue.
Today, WICB Media presents key quotes from Jaguars Head Coach Esuan Crandon.
On his side’s chances:
A lot of people may identify us as favourites. Obviously, we have got to back ourselves to win the Tournament. Some of the other teams around the region are very strong, so we are optimistic about our chances. We are missing a few key players from our middle order – Leon Johnson, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin and Ramnaresh Sarwan. They are capable of winning matches for us. We have a bit of a hole in the middle order, but there are a few young players that we have brought in to replace them. They have been around for a bit, but they have not played many matches at this level. We know they are capable of doing a good job for us.
On trying to end the drought:
We know it has been a long time since we have not won the title and it has been very disappointing the way we have been playing in recent times with the talent and combination of our team. We found a formula for winning towards the end of last year in the WICB PCL R4Day and we are happy with the work we have done to prepare for this tournament, so we want to continue in that vein. This however, is a different version of the game and it can go either way.
On areas for improvement from last year:
We were confident and felt we could win last year. We felt we had a strong team on paper, but we needed to perform. We did pretty well in the preliminary matches and reached the semi-finals, but the eventual champions Barbados got the better of us. We aren’t going to make any excuses, but for us to be successful we have to rotate the strike better when we are batting, particularly since we will be without a number of key players, and our bowling “at the death” is something we are also monitoring closely, we will need to bowlers to be clear in their minds about what they have to execute and not be confused.
On players regaining focus following the holiday break:
It was challenging for us. We asked the players to continue working on their own and tried to get coaches around the country to work with them. We tried to put things in place during that period. These guys must understand that they are now being paid as professionals and there are certain expectations. It has been evident that they followed this advice when they returned from the break. We did an assessment and the results showed improvements and so things have been going pretty well so far. We have a pretty good staff and we have put in a lot of specific work. We have tried to make full use of whatever time and resources were available to us and so far it is going well.
On players expected to make an impact:
Obviously, Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the most experienced guy in the group and will lead the batting, along with our captain Christopher Barnwell. Our openers – Trevon Griffith did well in the NS50 last year and Rajindra Chandrika had a few good performances in the 4-Day at the end of the year. Ronsford Beaton will spearhead our bowling and Raymond Reifer is a good all-rounder upon whom we will be depending a lot on him in this version of the game. I think he has a lot to offer in this version of the game. And we also expect the spin twins, Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo to make an impact. If I want, I could every player’s name because I believe they are all capable of performing at any given time.