Guyana Jaguars Practice Match: Chance for batsmen to shake off rust

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Cricket West Indies’ Four-day championship returns on January 9 and five-time defending champions, Guyana Jaguars, will open their campaign with the test of the pink ball against nemesis Leeward Islands Hurricanes in Antigua.

For a dress rehearsal, and a much needed one, there will be a three-day practice match from December 28 at the National Stadium, Providence, but they will not be using the pink ball.

The greatest focus on these matches will be the batsmen, and how they are able to convert their starts. The Jaguars biggest bugbear last season was a lack of centuries. Only four were scored, two by wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble and one each by openers Chandrapaul Hemraj and Tagenarine Chanderpaul.

But they were 20 half-centuries. Captain Leon Johnson scored four, the most, and had highest score of 76. Singh had three.

Overall, the Jaguars’ batsmen (one to eleven) had 178 innings, but only on 24 occasions they were able to score fifty or more.

Vishaul Singh’s experience will be called upon to solidify the middle order

They still won the championship by 20 points ahead of Barbados Pride, however, credit must go to their fast bowlers for raking in those points which proved crucial since Jaguars lost three matches.

Should the weather hold, the batsmen needed to ensure they make full use of the opportunities.

Without doubt, the prize of the day would be centuries but simply working gaps and building a good tempo could suffice for what should be their toughest title defence.

Johnson and Singh will have their work cut out since West Indies players Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Romario Shepherd are expected to be on international duty for Ireland’s tour of the Caribbean which runs from January 3-19.

Apart from Bramble, who averaged 52.72 last season, only Hetmyer, having just played one match, had an average of over 40.

To keep the gap with the teams, it means the Jaguars’ most seasoned batsmen will have to be the heavyweights in batting.

Chandrapaul Hemraj will hope to provide good starts at the top

Head Coach Esuan Crandon noted in a recent interview the importance of batsmen converting starts.

“When you look at individual performances, we can do a lot better, I would have spoken to the Guyana players about that already. I am looking for more individual dominance in terms of seasoned guys coming out and score hundreds and look to top the charts and that will be challenge for us this season.”

He added, “When you get good individual performances it reflects well on the team. It is about getting the batters to convert those starts into big centuries and the team will benefit.”

The first practice match will be played from December 28 to 30 from 09:30h to 17:00h at the National Stadium, with each day comprising a minimum requirement of 98 overs.

Leon Johnson’s side: Leon Johnson (Captain), Chandrapaul Hemraj, Vishal Singh, Christopher Barnwell, Anthony Bramble, Veerasammy Permaul, Gudakesh Motie, Keon Joseph, Devendra Bishoo and Sherfane Rutherford.

The optional players are Shimron Hetmyer, Romario Shepherd and Keemo Paul. Players who received NOC’s are Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Raymon Reifer.

The other players in Johnson’s team, subject to availability, are Trevon Griffith, Akshaya Persaud, Ramaal Lewis and Kevin Sinclair.

Antony Adams’ side: Antony Adams (Captain), Kevlon Anderson, Raymon Perez, Kemol Savory, Ronaldo Ali-Mohamed, Ricardo Adams, Tevin Imlach, Richie Looknauth, Kevin Umroa, Nial Smith, Clinton Pestano, Ashmead Nedd, Qumar Torrington, Joshua Jones and Quintin Sampson.

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