National batsman, Chanderpaul Hemraj, believes the Sagicor High Performance Centre (HPC) is the best place for any young cricketer committed to improving his trade and becoming a professional in the sport.
The elegant left-hander made the disclosure moments after returning home from his stint at the Sagicor HPC at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
The 19-year-old touched down in Guyana on Friday after completing the first phase, which started on June 1 this year. Hemraj and national First-Class fast bowler Ronsford Beaton of Essequibo are the Guyanese on the 2013-2014 batch of young players at the Centre.
The duo will rejoin their counterparts from the other Caribbean territories next month when the programme resumes.
The players selected are below the age of 25, and come from the six cricket-playing territories of the Caribbean. According to Hemraj, the experience so far has been nothing short of enjoyable.
“The best place a young cricketer would want to be, especially to become a professional cricketer, is at the Sagicor HPC,” the middle-order batsman, who has played three First-Class matches for Guyana, admitted.
He added, “Over the short period of time the coaches were able to assess every department of my game and make the necessary adjustments where needed, and also help me to improve in areas where I was lacking. I am pleased with the way my batting has been going and the progress I have made so far. Also, I have been working on my bowling and it has started to come along well.”
The former national youth player is also enthused about the fact that the programme not only centres on cricket, but also provides an avenue for the participants to develop critical life skills.
“Fitness has been intense throughout, but once you have a focused mind and practice routinely you get accustomed to it. We also had to do some academic work, so it isn’t just about the cricket. Additionally, after the course has been successfully completed we will be awarded a Professional Cricketer certificate. My overall experience so far has been an enjoyable one and I am looking forward to the next three months,” the Strathavon, Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara, resident pointed out.
Meanwhile, efforts to contact the 20-year-old Beaton for a comment on Friday proved futile, but the right-arm fast bowler did indicate to this publication earlier this year that he will seek to use the stint as an avenue to improve his cricket.
“It’s a big step in my cricketing career,” he said back then. “As you know, Guyana does not have the kind of facilities and coaching that you would get at the HPC, so I’m really looking forward it. This means a lot to me because as you can see, the HPC was able to produce quality players over the years who went on to play Test cricket, like [Veerasammy] Permaul for example.”
Permaul, the West Indies left-arm spinner, is among four Guyanese who have previously passed through the HPC programme.
The others are fast bowler Brandon Bess, who was called up by the West Indies selectors to play a Test match against South Africa while being part of the programme in 2010, and openers Rajendra Chandrika and Trevon Griffith.
Beaton has appeared in 14 First-Class matches, five List A and five T20 games for Guyana, while Hemraj has three First-Class matches under his belt.
Apart from Hemraj and Beaton, the current batch of Sagicor HPC entrants includes Test discard Adrian Barath of Trinidad, fast bowler Quinton Boatswain of Montserrat, West Indies opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite of Barbados, opener John Campbell of Jamaica, wicketkeeper Shai Hope of Barbados, all-rounder Akeal Hosein of Trinidad, wicketkeeper Steven Katwaroo of Trinidad, all-rounder Kyle Mayers of Barbados, all-rounder Dalton Polius of St Lucia, all-rounder Raymon Reifer of Barbados, batsman Tyrone Theophile of Dominica and batsman Hayden Walsh Jr of Antigua.
Commenting on the announcement of the new batch in May, Sagicor HPC head coach Graeme West said he was very excited about the prospects of transforming a new group of players.
The HPC programme has been broadened to focus more on developing the mental prowess of the players in addition to the standard rigorous training in skills development and fitness required for high performance athletes.
The players will also benefit from specialised training in a number of other areas including their roles as ambassadors, personal development, anti-doping, anti-corruption and media skills. The 2013 programme will conclude in December this year.