Which two will Guyana Jaguars contract at the Draft?


By Akeem Greene

Following the announcement of Cricket West Indies (CWI) International Retainer Contracts earlier this month, the six Regional Franchises will now complete the process of awarding their 15 contracts, with the Professional Franchise Player Draft due to take place on Tuesday (May 25) at 15:00h via video call.

Last week, CWI announced the 13 protected players by the six franchises and Guyana Jaguars opted to protect Kevlon Anderson (first-time contract), Christopher Barnwell, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Leon Johnson, Gudakesh Motie, Veerasammy Permaul, Vishaul Singh, Kevin Sinclair, and Nial Smith.

West Indies players Keemo Paul, Shimron Hetmyer, and Romario Shepherd, who lost West Indies retainer contracts for this period, receive A-grade Jaguars’ contract.

From the protected list in 2020, Anthony Bramble, Akshaya Persaud, Raymon Reifer, and Keon Joesph are the other players omitted from the 2021 protected list.

However, Reifer has moved to his home franchise, Barbados Pride.

At the last Draft, the CWI Board of Directors agreed that the requirement to contract at least two players from outside of the Franchise territory will not apply to the 2020/21 season.

Notably this year, none of the six franchises have opted to protect any overseas-based players.

Jamaican off-spinner Ramaal Lewis is the other Outside Home Territory player who was contracted by Jaguars last season and is not on the protected list this season.

However, at the last Draft, Lewis and wicketkeeper-batsman Tevin Imlach were selected.

Tevin Imlach (left) and Anthony Bramble

Slots to fill

Last year, ESPNcricinfo explained that West Indies regional players are contracted under two categories: one comprises a set of 90 players who are on monthly retainers with the six franchises. These contracted players are split across four categories: A, B, C, and Development.

Players in Category A get a monthly remuneration of US$2,666, those in Category B get $2,000, those in Category C earn $1,500 and those in the Development category get $1,000.

The second contracted category is the ‘Play-for-Pay’, where players are paid on a per-match basis.

All regional players, across both categories, are paid $1,600 per match, separate from all the allowances, including per diem.

Newly appointed Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Chairman of Selectors, Ramnaresh Sarwan, will have some tough decisions to make on whether they opt to contract one wicketkeeper-batsman or fill the two slots with bowlers, all-rounders, or batsmen.

The wicketkeeper-batsman options would be Tevin Imlach, Anthony Bramble, and Kemol Savory, while from a bowlers’ perspective, left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd, who was with Leeward Islands Hurricanes last season would be eyeing a draft pick. There are strong calls for spinner Antony Adams to move up from Academy contract.

These two selections are to complete the squad to play in the forthcoming season, which will hopefully include the CG Insurance Super50 Cup and the West Indies Four-Day Championship.

Imlach had four innings at this year’s Super50 and scored 94 runs at an average of 31.33, but was striking at 54.02, while Bramble had five innings where he scored 102 at an average of 20.40 and the strike rate was 104.08.

Imlach mainly opened the batting, while Bramble featured in the lower-order. With the gloves, Bramble had five dismissals, Savory two in his lone match, while Imlach had none.

In the last Four-Day season, Bramble had a dip in form as compared to his previous high-performing output. In 13 innings he scored 339 runs at 26.07, inclusive of two half-centuries, while the 24-year-old Imlach had one match, where he played as an opener, and produced scores of two and zero.

While the GCB has not yet made public the criteria they will be using to select for contracts or squads, for sure a debate will loom in this instance over investing in the future and protecting the present.

Ashmead Nedd (left) and Antony Adams

Three left-arm spinners?

Nedd has played two Super50 tournaments where he has managed to stifle the batsmen, and this year, he was the sixth-best with regards to economy rate (3.64), to go along with six wickets.

Fellow left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie, due to the absence of the team’s premier left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, played a full season of the Super50 and was the tournament’s leading bowler with 17 wickets.

Apart from an upgrade in contract, Motie certainly would be eyeing another full run come the next Super50.

Now with Permaul beginning to feature more regularly in West Indies red-ball camps and on recent occasions, the Test squad, his availability for Jaguars’ duties may be limited, which opens the door for a next spinner.

However, for the rest of 2021, West Indies mainly have white-ball commitments and just four Tests scheduled before they play the Caribbean Premier League (August-September) and then the WorldT20 (October-November).

Akshaya Persaud (left) and Bhaskar Yadram

Room for ‘Buffy’?

Pacer Keon Joseph, commonly called ‘Buffy’ by his teammates, was not protected this year, and looking at the squad, Smith is the only outright pacer, but Shepherd and Paul offer extremely quality seam bowling options with their all-round ability.

In the past, fast-bowling points were a key factor in Jaguars winning five consecutive Four-Day titles, and they may want to have that assured presence of another contracted pacer.

The 29-year-old Joseph played six of the eight First-Class matches last season and took 12 wickets at an average of 28.66, while his return to List A cricket in this year’s Super50 saw him grab 4-24 against Windward Islands Volcanoes.

There are also endless possibilities if West Indies all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford, who has been without a Jaguars contract for the last two seasons, opts to re-join the fold, after he last represented Jaguars in July 2019.

Keon Joseph

Other names might be under consideration, such as First-Class players Bhaskar Yadram and Akshaya Persaud, or even the exciting prospect of Quintin Sampson to fill the final two slots.

And it would be hard to rule out whether the new selection group will opt to go for experience in Assad Fudadin or Trevon Griffith.

For those who would not have been selected for Guyana Jaguars regional contracts, opportunities would still be available for Jaguars’ Academy Contracts.

Once the franchises have made their full picks to confirm their 15 retained players, a total of 90 cricketers across the six franchises will be retained on full-time regional contracts for the next 12 months.

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