By Sean Devers
The Travis Dowlin led-Guyana cricket team resumed preparations for the 2009 West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional first-class four-day cricket competition with their first physical workout after the Christmas holidays yesterday at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Georgetown.
The squad which is scheduled to depart for Grenada on Tuesday for their opening game against the Windward Islands, broke camp on December 22 and will be involved in their only practice match from today (Saturday) to Monday at the Guyana National Stadium before they leave for the unsponsored seven-team tournament which starts with three first round games on Friday January 8.
Manager of the team Carl Moore said the players had a physical fitness session yesterday (Friday) afternoon and were all looking forward to getting in some match practice before they leave for the Spice Isle.
“The guys had a good workout after their break for Christmas and everyone is anxious to get in some turf practice and our three-day practice game should be an important one for us before we face the Windwards from Friday. I hope that our batsmen in particular fully utilize the opportunity to spend some time in the middle since they are expected to play a crucial role if we are to return home after our first two games on the road with points,” Moore said.
“We have not done too well early in the competition away from home in the past and this year I am looking forward to the senior players pulling their weight and the younger ones making their presence felt in the first two games when both of our Test players (Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan) will be unavailable due to West Indies duties,” Moore said.
Guyana’s turf preparations have once again been affected by the seasonal rainy period at the end of the year here and Moore is hoping that the practice match will not be affected.
“Once again the rain has affected our preparations but the Stadium has a magnificent drainage system and once we don’t have major rainfall during the day the players should be able to have a full match from tomorrow (today). A lot will depend on Narsingh (Deonarine) and Travis (Dowlin) who have been playing at this level for some time now while I expect a lot with the bat from young Leon Johnson who batted really well last year and seems to have matured into a sound middle order batsman. His experience with the West Indies team in New Zealand should also work to his advantage this season,” Moore added.
The Guyanese were originally scheduled to depart Guyana on January 7 but will now leave a day earlier to get an extra day to practice in Grenadian conditions.
The talented 21-year-old Johnson has scored three fifties in nine first-class matches since he played his first two as a 16-year-old in 2003 and he is expected to emerge as Guyana’s leading batsman this season while rookie spinners Veerasammy Permaul and Davendra Bishoo could do the bulk of the bowling with support from Deonarine’s off-spin.
Guyana face the Combined Colleges and Campuses (CCC) at the 3Ws Oval in Barbados from January 16-19 in their second game before returning home for a third round bye.
The Guyanese then depart to play the Leeward Islands from January 30 to February 2 in Antigua before returning to Barbados to battle with Barbados from February 6-9.
Guyana will play their first home game from February 13-16 when they oppose Jamaica in the first of four home games scheduled for the Guyana National Stadium at Providence.
The South Americans, without a first-class title since 2002, then face Trinidad and Tobago (Feb 20-23) and the Windwards (Feb 27 –March 2) at the Stadium before they battle CCC from March 6-9 at Albion in the only game fixed for Berbice.
The Guyanese will then play the Leewards in their only game at Bourda from March 13-16 before they travel to take on Trinidad and Tobago at the Queens Park Oval from March 27-30.
Guyana face-off against Jamaica at Sabina Park and Barbados at the Guyana National Stadium in their final two matches on April 3-6 and April 11-14 respectively.
The team with the most points at the completion of the 12 rounds of action will be declared the winner as the WICB return to the home and away ‘double round’ format for the 2009 series.
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