I would be most grateful for you to consider carrying my thoughts on Guyana’s performance during the recent CG Caribbean Regional Super50 Tournament for the Sir Clive Lloyd trophy. A performance which, having promised so much, ended yet again in what has now become almost predictable disappointment for us in white ball cricket tournament finals!
When the Guyana squad was selected, I was no doubt quite happy with the bowlers who were chosen. I must, however, admit to having been disappointed that neither Jonathan Foo and Kevin Anderson making the cut into the final squad.
I saw Foo as an X factor, aggressive middle order batsman capable of changing the game at any stage. On the other hand, the West Indies Under-19 star, Anderson, seems to be fully in possession of both the foot work and skill that are required to score at a fairly good rate in white ball cricket.
It is also important, however, that I focus on the final, which is very much in my thoughts. Although having accepted in my mind that the T&T Red Force would have undoubtedly started as the favourites, Guyana was capable of a least competing against their experienced opponents.
Taking first strike, the Red Force did in the end produce what looked to be an unassailable total, even though Guyana was able to break the 100 partnership when Lewis fell to Motie for 57. The Jaguars did not get the rub of the green however, when Simmons seemed to be fully adjacent when struck on the pad and should have been adjudged LBW to the left arm spinner just about half way through his innings. Simmons went on to score a majestic 146 with Darren Bravo 47, Nicholas Pooran 39 and Kieron Pollard all scoring at well over a run-a-ball rate to build on the excellent start of 121 off 19.4 overs that had been made by the Red Force openers.
I also honestly felt that Jaguars captain Leon Johnson made a crucial initial error by not starting the bowling attack with Nial Smith. The in-form Smith had demonstrated throughout the competition that he was capable of taking top order wickets with his aggression. Instead, Johnson opted for the more defensive Raymond Reifer, who admittedly had bowled an important spell of containment against the Windwards in Guyana’s previous match. When Smith was eventually brought into the attack, the Red Force batsmen were already well set. Smith, however, showed his class and character by taking 1-59 off of 9 overs. He must also have been both surprised and disappointed that his captain Johnson did not allow him to bowl his full quota of 10 overs.
Gudakesh Moti again displayed his talent to the West Indies selectors by producing 10 skilful overs and conceding only 43 runs for his one scalp. The major bowling disappointment for the day however, was Romario Shepherd. We must all admit that he had a most disappointing showing, never once producing the excellent work with the ball and bat which he displayed previously in New Zealand.
Indeed, Shepherd’s lengths throughout the tournament were ragged, but it was in the final that he sadly saved his worst for last. He seemed to have lost total confidence, spirit and will to end up with 2–105 from his 10 overs.
This was definitely not the same Shepherd we had seen before. Not the one who had deservedly earned a place in the West Indies ODI squad by bowling just back of a length on the top of the off stump, and on an impressively consistent line that was heavily applauded by our world-renowned commentator Ian Bishop.
It is hoped that it was just a series of bad days at the office for Shepherd. My further hope is that Phil Simmons and his coaching staff would provide the necessary supporting work to get him back to his customary consistency and control.
With all due respect to the experience of Veerasammy Permaul, I did not think it was at all wise for him to be included in the playing XI for the Final. He had played little or no cricket while in Bangladesh for almost a month and a half, following which there was the long flight back to Antigua and a short period of quarantine.
When the Guyana Jaguars began their task of getting close to the T&T Red Force’s total of 362, it was, most disappointingly, not outstanding bowling that took the wickets of their top-order batsmen. Rather, their rapid procession-like successive downfalls were the direct result of sheer irresponsible and senseless batting, each finding unique ways to bring about their own demise!
Imlach was guilty of playing across the line instead of hitting into the V. His dismissal was soon to be followed by a reckless shot by Shimron Hetmyer from a wide innocuous Ravi Rampaul delivery. Skipper Johnson was the next to go, playing a weak shot off the same bowler to be well caught in the gully by Philip. Barnwell picked out Mohammed at deep backward square off the bowling of the promising Seales and Shepherd became another Rampaul victim.
With the scoreboard displaying Guyana at 55-6, it was almost over, except for the courage and commitment of Raymon Reifer. Together with Sinclair, Reifer added 39 for the seventh wicket. Sinclair, however, joined the ranks of the injudicious Jaguars, needlessly throwing his wicket away, caught in the deep attempting a shot that was highly unnecessary.
Permaul also stuck around a bit to add 38 to the Barbadian born all-rounder, while Moti, playing most sensibly in getting to 28, saw Reifer into the 90s before he was dismissed.
Following Moti’s departure, the West Indian all-rounder Reifer did try to jockey the bowling with his list A century in mind, getting as far as 97. Smith, at the other end, saddled with the job of facing two deliveries so that Reifer may have achieved his quest of 100 in the following over, was however bowled by Seales first ball, attempting an attacking shot instead of defending. That left Reifer undefeated on 97, made off of 112 balls and including seven 4s and three 6s. A most gallant effort as Guyana disappointingly ended on 210 all out off of just 43.5 overs.
Looking ahead, I think it is time for Hetmyer to be given the captaincy of the T20 and ODI squads. The organizers of the Guyana Amazon Warriors franchise may also consider that he be given an opportunity to lead that entity. He, Hetmeyer, must clearly understand, however, that leadership begins with him. As such, he must demonstrate and carry out a much more disciplined performance with the bat, as opposed to his far-too-often- adopted ill-advised approach of attempting to hit bowlers out of the ground regardless of the state of his team’s innings!
Hetmyer must also adopt a sense of historical appreciation for those who came before him and made all of the West Indies and Guyana extremely proud of their achievements. He needs to look at the careers of fellow left handers such as Roy Fredericks (311 ODI runs/12 matches/Avg. 25.91), Sir Clive Lloyd (1977 ODI runs/87 matches/Avg.39.54) Alvin Kalicharran (826 ODI runs/31 matches/Avg.34.41) and Shiv Chanderpaul (8778 ODI runs/268 matches/Avg 41.60). They were all attacking players when needed, but they each also appreciated the need to get a start and build an innings for their team.
Hetmyer’s overzealous attacking approach did not start yesterday. Whilst playing in St. Lucia for Guyana against the Windwards in November 2016, he tried to square cut a delivery from the medium fast bowler Mervin Matthews just as his innings was getting started, only to be caught at backward point by Devon Smith. That demonstrated rashness has continued ever since.
After my duties as the match commentator had ended at close of play, I sought and obtained the respective permissions from his captain and manager to speak to the talented left-handed. During our conversation, I pointed out that cut shots square of the wicket are not advisable at the start of an innings, and should ideally be shelved until after both the pace and bounce of the pitch had been definitively determined. I further advised him to play mostly into the “V” for the early part of any innings.
The entire Caribbean heard what I can only describe as an act of contrition in Hetmyer’s interview before the Final against the Red Force. During the actual match, he was, however, unfortunately back to his worst habits, displaying yet again another atrocious performance when his team needed him to bat deep into the overs.
I have no doubt that Hetmyer’s financial future is well assured as he heads back to another IPL Season, as the tournament goes back to India. Whether he would, in fact, regain his place in all formats of the game, and especially in the WI Test team, will depend heavily on how he performs if and when given any further opportunity in the 2021 home series. In the interim, he would also be well advised to make the same choices Allen has in terms of his hairstyle.
Leon Johnson, as captain of the Guyana first-class outfit, is expected to continue to lead Guyana in the 2021 WI season. He may also want to consider going lower in the batting order, at number 6, to play that captain’s role that he is very capable of producing.
At the end of the day, what is now of the greatest importance for the immediate future of Guyana’s cricket is that all cricketers can be provided with opportunities to play the game that they so love under an atmosphere of a settled national cricket administration.
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime. cricketwindies.com/forum/