By Orin Davidson
All the fanfare, enthusiasm and outpouring of support for the Guyana national cricket team is amounting to nothing in South Africa. It is being frittered away by poor strategizing and apparent egoistic behavior.
The bombshell omission of key bowler Lennox Cush for the must-win game against Mumbai Indians on Thursday was a classic blunder which according to reports, was influenced by a non cricketing issue, that left many members of the 23-man Guyana touring party fuming.
Guyana duly lost the game following a batting assault by big-hitting Keiron Pollard and with it all its chances of reaching the playoff semi-finals stage evaporated.
The defeat was Guyana’s second from two games and the perplexing explanation given for Cush’s omission is an insult to the intelligence of even the average cricket fan.
Both captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and coach Ravindranauth Seeram explained to the media that the pacy, bouncy pitch in Durban influenced the decision to play seamer Paul Wintz in his debut game instead.
Needless to say Wintz was the most expensive bowler, being hammered for 46 runs off four overs.
He was chosen ahead of the experienced Cush who happens to be the team’s most prolific T20 wicket-taker and among the most economical ever in the team in this form of cricket.
And when you add his batting ability, the dubious explanation provided by captain and coach could not be more obvious.When you consider Cush is the only bowler in world T20 cricket to notch two hat tricks in the shortest version of the game, the latest occurring less than three months ago, that decision adds insult to injury.
Why would a team axe him for a seamer who has never played for Guyana in any form of the game, more so when Cush was their best bowler with figures of three overs for 18 runs in Guyana’s first Airtel game against Bangalore Royal Challengers, is the million-dollar question?.
Cush was the bowler who ended Dwayne Bravo’s batting victory march while he was mauling Guyana attack’s which led to their four-run win over Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean T20 championship semi-finals in July.
The fact that Pollard is susceptible to spin bowling makes Cush’s omission a greater mystery.
That was clearly obvious in Durban on Thursday when the big Trinidadian was literally made to draw maps by leg spinner Devindra Bishoo and off spinner Royston Crandon when he took the crease.
Based on his noted guile, Cush would have surely added to Pollard’s misery at the time and likely prevent his whirlwind 30-ball 72 runs that put the game out of Guyana’s reach.
It is now history that as soon as the medium pace of Chris Barnwell was introduced, following the expiration of Crandon’s four-over allotment, Pollard found his touch by launching two sixes in that over to initiate the carnage. Clearly the Guyana captain and coach would have noted Pollard’s preference for the faster stuff, highlighted by his 128-yard monster six, struck off the competition’s fastest bowler Shaun Taitt in Mumbai’s previous game.
Which is why there seems more in the mortar than the pestle surrounding Cush’s dropping.
It lends credibility to reporter Sean Devers’ sourced claim of it being Sarwan’s sole decision following his annoyance at the player’s absence from viewing Mumbai’s clash against the South Australia Redbacks, with other Guyana team members.
Cush, whose reported decision to rest instead, following a practice session, makes Sarwan’s action if accurate, an egotistical gaff of immense proportions. Why must a player pander to a captain’s whims and fancies when rest was clearly the best option, especially for a player of Cush’s age (35 years old) in the context of the situation?
He did well in the CL T20 triumph. But Sarwan’s temperament as captain must certainly come into question as a result of this recent development.
If he will allow the occasion of a big tournament to swell his head so easily to the extent that it jeopardises his team’s chances for success, then he is in the wrong job.
It makes the West Indies Cricket Board’s claim of Sarwan having an attitude problem, which it said was a factor in him losing his retainer contract, much more credible.