Guyana Jaguars are hoping the upcoming Super50 will be the time they break their jinx in the regional domestic 50-overs tournament.
Last year, Jaguars stumbled at the final hurdle, surrendering to eventual champions Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners by six wickets in the final in Bridgetown, to miss out on their eighth title but first in 14 years.
Head coach Esuan Crandon, who has overseen Jaguars’ domination of the first class championship, believes the struggles in the Super50 is a mental block.
“We have not managed to win it for a long time. We would have played really well up to the final match and to cross that last hurdle has been a struggle for us over the years,” Crandon said.
“We have highlighted a few things. For me, I think it is just being able to manage that final game and the expectations around us and winning and going through the same processes which we had done during the group matches and the semi-finals.
“It’s more a mental hurdle for us, I think, and it’s just for us to be ready and mentally prepared, switched on and able to control our emotions, so we are focusing on some of these things during our preparations and we expect to do much better when we get to the final stages of the tournament.”
Jaguars, who will be again led by out-of-favour West Indies batsman Leon Johnson, have been hard at work in recent weeks putting the final touches on their preparation.
They have also had the benefit of their local white-ball league which has ensured valuable competitive practice, and allowed several players to find their touch.
“Preparations have been going well so far. We were affected a bit by the weather a few months ago, but we were able to step things up about six or seven weeks ago and start doing some white-ball preparations which has gone well for us and the weather has been good,” Crandon noted.
“We have been able to get in some quality work. We have focused on game scenarios and getting the players to understand their roles, rotation of the strike and getting the players to take more responsibility from a batting perspective.
“We have started our franchise league last Thursday. It’s been very competitive, and we have seen some outstanding performances throughout the tournament, and we have used it to help select our team. We also have a couple of practice games to finalize our preparations before we travel to Trinidad.”
Jaguars will back themselves to emerge as one of the two semi-finalists from Group B where they will clash with hosts Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Windward Islands Volcanoes, West Indies Emerging Players and United States.
And Crandon said they planned on bringing the same intensity to each game to guard against complacency.
“Obviously there good teams in our group. We will not take any side for granted. We will take each opponent seriously and one game at a time,” he stressed.
“The good thing is that every team gets to play the other twice, so after the first encounter, the players have time to prepare for the return match and try to do better. With the two top teams from the group advancing to the semi-finals, every other team will come to play hard and win matches.
“Fans will view the Jaguars as one of the top teams in the group, along the Red Force and the Volcanoes, but we cannot rule out the Emerging Players squad and the United States, so we have to play every opponent hard and strong.”