The regional four-day cricket competition in the West Indies is on in earnest and the defending champions Guyana Jaguars are already confirmed as champions for the 4th consecutive year.
They have gone unbeaten in eight rounds and have accumulated 135 points and is in an excellent position to gain maximum points against the Barbados Pride in the ongoing ninth round fixture.
They have a great chance of going undefeated for the entire season as they did in the 2015 -2016 season.
I will examine some of the possible reasons for the upsurge in the performance of the Guyana Jaguars and look at the some of the possibilities for the team and West Indies cricket in general.
According to the Guyanese coach, Esaun Crandon, one of the main reasons for the consistent performance of the team is the culture of fitness in the group. Fitness is taken very seriously, and players know that if they want to be a part of the unit, they must maintain a level of fitness that is set by the coaching staff.
This strict focus on fitness has resulted in very limited injuries to Guyanese players throughout the season. This has allowed continuity in team selection and by extension camaraderie and team spirit which have translated into victories for the Guyanese team in cricket matches.
Another possible reason for the rise of Guyana as a powerhouse in regional cricket is the strength of their youth cricket program.
The under-19 and under-17 teams have performed consistently well over the past five or so years in regional competitions, and several of these players have made the transition to the first-class team.
This has resulted in several young players making it to the playing eleven and performing very well. Players such as Keemo Paul (19), Tagenarine Chanderpaul (21), Chandrapaul Hemraj (24), Romario Shepherd (23) and Sherfane Rutherford (19) are in the current team. Shimron Hetmeyer (21) is another player that came through the under-19 ranks and recently made his debut for the West Indies team.
These young players coming through at the first-class level have given depth to the Guyanese Cricket program, and if this continues which is highly likely, there will be many more young players coming through soon. This focus on young player development is, in my opinion, a critical reason for the recent performance of the senior team.
The influence of senior statesman Shivnarine Chanderpaul has also been a contributing factor to the success of the Guyana Jaguars team. Chanderpaul has spoken of the satisfaction that he gets from interacting and sharing with the young players in the squad.
These players have a lot of respect for Chanderpaul and the knowledge he imparts. This mutual respect helps to create a positive team environment and motivates the team to do well for each other. The positive effect of Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the Guyana Cricket team shows how important it is for a mixture of experience and youth for the success of a cricket team.
The Guyana Jaguars team is one tournament away from equaling the five (5) in a row won by the Jamaica Pride between 2007 -2008 and 2011-2012 and the Barbadian team between 1975-76 and 1979 -80. If they continue to play with the same level of commitment and confidence, I do not doubt that they will at least equal the five (5) or even surpass the feat.
If they do, this will be a well-deserved achievement for Guyanese cricket and will continue to have a positive impact on West Indies cricket by producing quality young players that will undoubtedly feature in the West Indies team soon.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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