Selection changes loom for Guyana Amazon Jaguars- Sarwan

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By Akeem Greene

akeem@newsroom.gy

Chairman of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Senior Selection Panel, Ramnaresh Sarwan, has revealed that changes will be made to the Guyana Amazon Jaguars squad as they head into the Regional Four-Day Championship, scheduled to start in February 2022.

Guyana Amazon Jaguars is the rebranded Guyana Jaguars, the country’s national franchise team.

Sarwan, speaking Virtually at a GCB press conference on Saturday, said the panel is putting systems in place to form a more balanced unit, one which is picked on performances.

Assisting Sarwan on the Senior Selection Panel are Albert Smith, Peter Persaud and Otto Christiani, while Andre Percival, who heads the Junior panel, is supported by Balram Samaroo, Roderick Lovell and Christiani.

Since this new administration took office in March 2021, it has been critical of Cricket West Indies and its selection policy, and as it regards the GCB’s policy, Sarwan explained, “We have a document we are trying to put together, actually it has been put together, but it needs to be altered.”

Guyana Amazon Jaguars could field some new faces in the upcoming Four-Day championship

The policy will soon be put into effect, as for the Regional Four-Day Championship next year, and according to Sarwan, “for the upcoming tournament in February we are looking to make a few changes.”

“We have been challenged with batting performance and that is something we want to change. Of course, we had a lot of guys who have been playing for quite some time and it seems we are not getting the best out of them,” he further elaborated.

In the quest for better results, the former Guyana and West Indies captain asserted there will be no complete overhaul of the current structure, but rather a smooth transition.

“We don’t want to find ourselves in a position where we are making an overhaul of Guyana’s cricket or the batting department. There are opportunities that will be given to young players and we also try to have a smooth transition where we have youth and experience together.”

Unproductive batsmen

“It raises concerns when you are performing so well and not producing players to represent you at the highest level,” the chairman stated, as he highlighted Jaguars won five Four-Day titles on the trot, but have no player cemented in the Test squad currently.

Sarwan said the batsmen are averaging between 25 and 35 and ideally, they would want to pick a team on performances, but because of such numbers, they are forced to pick teams based on experience.

“I personally don’t believe they [experienced batsmen] are living up to their expectations or their ability so that is something we want to work on, but we need to build a team where we have a batting order that can help compensate for some of the failures over the years.”

The 41-year-old, who retired with averages above 40 in both One-Day Internationals and Tests, said the batsmen need to aim to have averages in excess of 40, and he knows they have ability given they have done it in a few seasons, but not consistently.

Guyana Jaguars, now Guyana Amazon Jaguars, players at a training session at the National Stadium, Providence

Zero tolerance on fitness

According to Sarwan, players who are playing the shorter formats (T10 and T20) are falling short in fitness and the board will have “zero tolerance” towards such. He indicated about six to eight months ago, they had a conversation with the players about their performances and fitness.

Informally, he told the executive there needs to be a stricter approach to fitness and a balance should be struck with players who are solely focused on the shorter formats and those interested in the longer versions.

Sarwan drew reference to the Indian Premier League minimum standard of 18.5 on the Yo-Yo test and Cricket West Indies standard of 40, noting that the plan is to raise Guyana’s minimum level to 45.

“Fitness has become such a social media rant and the players themselves are the one that needs to take the responsibility to resolve the problem; it is written there, they are aware of it, so I would encourage them to try and do that,” Sarwan added.

Young talents! From left: Matthew Nandu, Tevin Imlach and Kevlon Anderson

New talents

Meanwhile, discussions have begun regarding the grooming of future leaders of the Jaguars and a few names have been touted, but the GCB “has not committed themselves to anyone.”

Noting current captain Leon Johnson, who has led Jaguars to five titles in the six seasons of the Professional Cricket League, has been exceptional, Sarwan’s endeavour is for Johnson to “groom” the leader who will take over.

While he did not divulge the potential candidates on Saturday, he pointed out that in terms of when the process would commence, it could potentially happen in the Four-Day season, but certainly whenever the Super50 occurs.

However, the Chairman did announce that the young players- batting all-rounder Matthew Nandu, batsman Kevlon Anderson and wicketkeeper/batsman Tevin Imlach- are on their radar to be part of the Jaguars unit.

At the Professional Players’ draft in May, the Jaguars selected: Kevlon Anderson, Christopher Barnwell, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Leon Johnson, Gudakesh Motie, Keemo Paul, Veerasammy Permaul, Romario Shepherd, Vishaul Singh, Kevin Sinclair, Nial Smith, Anthony Bramble, Keon Joseph.

Bramble and Joseph were the two drafted as the other 13 were protected players.

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