Selections, omissions and more! What the GCB Selection Panel said
Just about a week after the Guyana Harpy Eagles squad was announced for participation in the Cricket West Indies Regional Four-Day Championship, the Guyana Cricket Board Senior Selection Panel, led by former First-Class batsman Ravindranauth Seeram, engaged members of the media on Thursday to address concerns regarding the composition of the squad.
Notably, only three media houses were invited to the briefing at the National Stadium, Providence, where Seeram was accompanied by Albert Clements, the Berbice representative on the Selection Panel, and Territorial Development Officer of the Guyana Cricket Board, Colin Stuart.
The other two selectors- Peter Persaud (Demerara) and Elroy Stephney (Essequibo)- were absent.
The 13-man squad was announced on January 20, and immediately sparked a public outrage with question marks over the exclusion of seasoned left-arm spinner Antony Adams and the inclusion of batsman Akshaya Persaud and left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd.
This week, long-serving captain Leon Johnson made the startling revelation that he learnt of his selection and the composition of the squad via a post on Facebook, noting that he played no part in the selection process.
What the selectors said
Context: Antony Adams is an experienced campaigner at the domestic level. He has been one of the consistent wicket-takers for Essequibo over the last decade, but his appearances for Guyana have been limited with trio Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul and Gudakesh Motie being the first-choice spinners. With Motie off on West Indies duties in Zimbabwe, it was widely felt Adams would be the replacement in the Guyana squad. The 29-year-old took six wickets, including a haul of 4-25, in the two practice matches earlier this month, but the selectors opted for another left-arm spinner in young Ashmead Nedd, who took three wickets.
Seeram said: “We were given a time to select the team, which was Friday, and Antony Adams got his four wickets after the team was selected. So, based on that, you (journalist) saw Nedd bowling, and he bowled pretty well where chances were given off of him and I think that is the reason why Nedd was selected in front of Adams.”
According to Seeram, 22-year-old Nedd being a West Indies Emerging Player also worked in his favour, a position that was backed by Clements.
Clements also made reference to Nedd’s experience of playing the Super50 competition with the West Indies Under-19 side and the qualities he brings to the set-up.
“Even in Four-Day (cricket) you need somebody to lock down (one end) and Nedd has established that in his bowling. He was top of his control,” Clements explained.
All is not lost for Adams; the current squad is for the first two rounds, after which an assessment will be made by the Panel to determine the composition of the squad for the remaining three rounds.
Seeram said: “Adams is probably one of the better spinners after Motie and Permaul, so basically we will try to motivate him, keep him in the ‘tek up’, let him try to learn his trade a little more.”
Context: The inclusion of Akshaya Persaud has been a talking point. With an average of 7.42 from five First-Class games, the 25-year-old has not enjoyed the best of starts to his senior regional career. In the two practice games, the left-hander accumulated 68 runs and the men he was direct competition with for the spot- Kevlon Anderson and Mavindra Dindyal- got 100 and 62 runs respectively. Like Nedd, Anderson is a West Indies Emerging Player, however, the selectors felt Persaud’s ‘experience’ titled the balance in his favour.
Clements said: “Akshaya’s performance was poor as you say, but even in the last game we saw him coming into his own. What we took into consideration was the last couple years he was part of the team and we took the experience.”
Seeram said: “You need to make runs to put your foot forward and seal a place in the team. So the fact is, Anderson didn’t really get that score (and) we decided as the selection committee to go for a person who was in the previous team for the first two games. Anderson didn’t make 50 or a 100, what we’re saying these youngsters are there, they need to put their hands up to gain selection and for that to happen they need to make more runs.”
Context: Appearing on Barbados radio programme Mason and Guest, Guyana Harpy Eagles skipper Leon Johnson said, “I saw the team on Facebook!” That would imply he was not part of the selection process, and this was confirmed by Johnson. He clarified that “it has not always been that way…I used to have an input, my opinion was valued.” Seeram revealed that Johnson could not have been part of the selection process this time, since the Board had not named a caption prior to the squad being picked.
Seeram said: “The Cricket Board normally nominates the captain or elects the captain, and because the Cricket Board didn’t elect the captain we couldn’t have said that Johnson is the captain. We couldn’t call him for help in the selection of the team.”
On the procedure used to inform the captain of his selection, Seeram felt it was an oversight by the Territorial Development Officer (TDO) Colin Stuart to not inform the skipper.
However, Stuart disputed this, stating that such a responsibility does not fall within his ambit.
Seeram said: “Basically when we select the team, it goes to the President and the TDO. When the President gets the team, he would give his input then pass it on to Colin and then he gives it to you guys- the journalists- and the team. I think Colin made a mistake where he didn’t tell Johnson he is the captain or didn’t relate the team to Johnson. I think it was an oversight from Colin.”
Stuart rebutted: “Seeram, I want to correct you there. I’ve never had the responsibility of informing the captain that he was selected. I cannot recall that that has ever been a policy of the Board where the TDO informs the person that they’re captain.”