Gajanand Singh: “My ultimate goal is to play Test cricket”
By Avenash Ramzan
Fresh off a commanding performance in the University of West Indies (UWI)/UNICOM T20 cricket competition in Trinidad and Tobago last week, Guyanese batsman Gajanand Singh says the desire to play cricket at the highest level is still very much alive, despite the fact that time might not be on his side.
The left-handed, middle-order batsman displayed his undoubted talent in the tournament, scoring five half-centuries in as many games to take Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) to the final, a game they lost to a star-studded Cane Farm team, boasting the likes of Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Rayad Emrit, Evin Lewis, Imran Khan and Jon-Russ Jagessar.
The former West Indies Under-19 player racked up scores of 64, 88, 56, 56 and 64, and was only dismissed once- in the final. Such exemplary performance- 328 runs at an astonishing average of 328- unsurprisingly earned him Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“Going into the tournament we had a lot of hurdles we had to cross to get there as a DCC team, and I must thank them for inviting me and giving me the chance to perform on a big stage which had a lot of senior players playing. My performance was just a result of the hard work I’ve been putting in,” Gajanand related.
“It’s always frustrating to get to a final and not cross the hurdle, but all in all we went to the final against all odds. We played as a team. Everyone gave 150% and there is nothing more you can ask for when your team gives 150% because there has to be a winner, there has to be a loser.”
In an exclusive interview with News Room Sport on Wednesday following his heroics in Trinidad, Gajanand indicated that his desire to play international cricket has never diminished and he is looking forward to first break into the Guyana team and perform at the regional level.
“My ultimate goal is to play Test cricket for West Indies. It’s never too late. I’m working as hard as I ever have. I can only control so much things, but the things that I can control that’s what I’m working on- my cricket and spending long time at the crease,” he highlighted.
Gajanand was an outstanding performer for Guyana at the youth level, blasting 423 runs at average of 84.6 in the 2006 TCL Regional Under-19 Three-day tournament, his final year of youth cricket.
That performance, which included a brilliant 150 not out against Jamaica at Enmore and an even-hundred against the Windward Islands at DCC, coupled with two fifties, earned him a spot on the West Indies Under-19 side to the 2006 Youth World Cup in Sri Lanka.
However, since then he has only appeared in 10 First-Class matches and two List A games for Guyana’s senior team, between 2008 and 2011.
For all the promise he displayed in regional youth cricket, it is widely felt that the Berbician could have achieved a lot more at this stage of his career. 376 First-Class runs at an average of 25.06 with two fifties is not a true reflection of his obvious talent. But what really made this transition so difficult?
“I can’t really say, but I took a break from cricket and had some personal stuff I had to deal with. Leaving that out, I’m back now and looking forward to a good career from now to whenever I decide to retire,” Gajanand, who has a highest First-Class score of 66, mentioned.
At 29, Gajanand is at the age where players are at their prime, and he believes he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in his career, both physically and mentally.
“I’m in better shape than a lot of the times that I have played cricket. I have been working hard…training, a lot of gym, a lot of cardio, strength training and I feel really good,” he remarked.
With a cadre of young batsmen currently in the Cricket Guy Inc. Academy set-up, Gajanand is aware that his opportunities in the Guyana team may very well be limited. However, that is certainly not a deterrent to the batsman, who is a product of the Young Warriors Cricket Club of Canje, Berbice.
“I’m always ready, I’m always ready. You have to be prepared mentally and physically to play, but if given a call to play at any moment I will try to grab it with both hands. I’m 29 years old now and there are not much chances that would come so whatever chances I get now I have to take it with both hands,” Gajanand reasoned.
That sabbatical from the game and being away from senior regional cricket for the past six years have helped Gajanand to become more mentally tough, a trait he must exercise if he wants to remain relevant among those other players also vying for a spot on the national team.
“I think as a youth cricketer I played natural cricket. It wasn’t about thinking too much about what I had to do, but it allowed me success, it allowed me to score a lot of runs. Growing up and being more mature now and coming back into the game, it requires a lot more mental toughness. I think I have grown a lot mentally, so I’m tougher in situations now. I’m fighting my way back in, so I have to be mentally tough. My technique has always been solid, no problem with that, but I’m looking forward to getting back into regional cricket,” Gajanand explained.