By Ravi Madholall
Former Guyana youth player and now Level Two Coach Ryan Hercules has thrown his support behind Guyana Jaguars to retain the Cricket West Indies regional four-day Professional Cricket League Championship.
Guyana Jaguars’ possession of the prestigious cup for five years in succession speaks volume according to Hercules, who believes that the team is well-balanced and definitely enthusiastic to create more history.
Jaguars have the ability to rule supremacy from Thursday when the six-team, ten-round competition bowls off with the South American side tackling Leeward Islands Hurricanes at the Sir Vivian Richard Stadium, Antigua and Barbuda.
Apart from the formidable combination, which will be led by the Guyana’s most triumphant captain Leon Johnson, Hercules also thinks that the experienced players would certainly make a big difference and that should also boost their confidence prodigiously.
“Yes, I think with the team they have it’s possible they can win the tournament again especially with a lot of experienced and West Indies players included like, Johnson, Vishal Singh, Christopher Barnwell, Devendra Bishoo, Veersammy Permaul, Raymond Reifer, Chanderpaul Hemraj and a mixture of youths; I think once the players stick to the basics and work together it will be a successful one for Guyana,” the Essequibian Hercules mentioned.
Reflecting on what would have transpired over the past five years in which the Guyanese dominated proceedings, Hercules is also predicting the team to reproduce those magnificent performances.
Guyana Jaguars now should be empowered to do well again in every aspect of their game both on foreign and local soils.
“Obviously, you have some strong teams going to compete but I feel we have a side that is very well experienced and as I said the international exposure from many players is an asset for Guyana Jaguars,” Hercules, who worked with the Guyana Amazon Warriors team at last year’s Caribbean Premier League tournament, related.
After illustrating beautifully their talents for five straight years, Hercules is very confident the collaboration would once more be a prevailing factor.
“You looked at the way Guyana Jaguars played over the years, and be champions, really showed that we have got great talents; the team played fantastic cricket over the years and winning the championship for six years, should not be a difficult task for the roaring Jaguars,” Hercules, who represented Guyana senior team in a Festival tour-match in Canada, stated.
The other senior players who have made up the lineup are also talented enough to make an impression.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Anthony Bramble has been very consistent behind and infront of the stumps while opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul is expected to start the innings with Hemraj. Both scored centuries last year and Hercules is very optimistic they are eager to churn out more memorable innings.
Meanwhile, Guyana Jaguars selected two uncapped players: off-spinning all-rounder Kevin Sinclair and quickie Nial Smith. They will be without the services of batting sensation Shimron Hetmyer, all-rounder Keemo Paul and fast-bowler Romario Shepherd. The trio are in the West Indies squad currently clashing with Ireland in a three-match limited-over series in the Caribbean. But according to Hercules, Guyana Jaguars will still start as overwhelming favourites for the championship. The five other participating teams are: Barbados Pride, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Jamaica Scorpions and Windward Islands Volcanoes.
The Guyana Jaguars squad reads: Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Leon Johnson (Captain), Christopher Barnwell, Vishaul Singh, Devendra Bishoo, Tevin Imlach, Keon Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Anthony Bramble, Veerasammy Permaul, Nial Smith and Kevin Sinclair.
The management team is made up of: Esuan Crandon (Head Coach), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (Assistant Coach/Manager) and Neil Barry Jr. (Physiotherapist).