By Sean Devers in Barbados In association with Digicel, Carib Beer & Leisure Inn
Guyana begin their quest for a place in the Club Champions League in South Africa in September when they face-off with the Windward Islands in their opening match of the Caribbean T20 Championships from 16:00hrs today here at the Kensington Oval.
Led by West Indies batman Ramnaresh Sarwan, Guyana arrived in Barbados on Wednesday and were kept indoors due to heavy rain on the Island. But according to Sarwan the Guyanese are a happy bunch and focused on playing as a team.
“In T20 cricket anyone can win because the game is so short and there is not much room for mistakes. Playing as a team is very important in such a short game and the guys understand their roles as we try to win and qualify for South Africa,” Sarwan told Kaieteur Sport.
Guyana play CCC on Sunday before taking on Barbados in Trinidad on Thursday but Sarwan, who along Travis Dowlin are the only Guyanese with 100 runs in Regional T20 cricket, feels today’s game could be their toughest.
“We are not underrating any team and while qualifying for South Africa is a major motivator for the guys, we are here to play hard cricket and win this first. So right now we don’t want to think too far ahead and our plan is to take one game at a time,” Sarwan disclosed.
Sarwan said the Windwards have a very strong team and Devon (Smith) and (Andre) Fletcher are very capable of throwing their bats around at the top of the order. He reckoned that the first 6 ‘power-play’ overs when Guyana field could be crucial to the outcome of the match.
Daren Sammy, Rawle Lewis and Liam Sebastien are also capable of big hitting for the Islanders who are making their regional debut today. Veteran off-spinner Lennox Cush is expected to play a key role if he opens the bowling.
At 35, Cush, a USA International, is now considered a specialist and his four overs and late order hitting should feature if Guyana is successful.
The batting is Guyana’s strength and Sewnarine Chattergoon will need to fire at the top of the order in a format that is not ideally suited to his style while Dowlin, Guyana’s most successful T20 batsman will also need to produce for Sarwan, who will want to bat through the innings, Narsingh Deonarine, Royston Crandon, Derwin Christian, Chris Barnwell, Cush and new cap Jonathon Foo to build on.
Esuan Crandon’s pugnacious 74 against Jamaica in the Stanford 20/20 tournament will be remembered while debutant Paul Wintz and Davendra Bishoo can also bat. This gives Guyana arguably the strongest batting line-up on paper in the tournament.
The rules for qualifying for the semi-finals also place an emphasis on hitting maximums. If two or more teams end the preliminary round on equal points the team with the higher net run rate will advance. If still equal, the team with the most wins will go through and if still equal the team with head-to-head wins among the teams on equal points and victories will advance.
In the unlikely event that everything else is still equal the team with the most sixes in the preliminary round will advance to the semi-finals.
While the Windwards’ batting lacks depth, their bowling looks very competent with the lively Nelon Pascal who recently made his Test debut against South Africa and the experienced Deighton Butler expected to share the new ball on a hard pitch with bounce and pace while Sammy should also play an important role for his team.
Off-spinner Shane Shillingford bowled impressively against the South Africans and along with the Veteran Lewis and the flat off-spin of Sebastien, the Guyanese, with just one loss (2008 semi-final to Jamaica) in 7 regional matches, could have their work cut out to score freely.
The tightening of the Barbados immigration regulations have seen a drop over the last six months in Guyanese nationals residing here. But Guyanese still out-number all other foreign Nationals living on the 166 square-mile Island. A large crowd and plenty of Guyana support is anticipated today after the competition began with two matches yesterday.
The Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Cricket Association have collaborated to promote the T20 cricket as an added attraction for the Crop-Over season. The timing of the games (16:00hrs & 20:00hrs) also caters for those in the work force to attend and a large crowd and plenty of fun and frolic is anticipated today at Kensington Oval.
Guyana – Ramnaresh Sarwan (captain), Sewnarine Chattergoon, Christopher Barnwell, Travis Dowlin, Narsingh Deonarine, Derwin Christian, Lennox Cush, Royston Crandon, Devendra Bishoo, Esaun Crandon, Jonathan Foo, Paul Wintz, Steven Jacobs, Assad Fudadin.
Windward Islands – Darren Sammy (captain), Devon Smith, Andre Fletcher, Rawl Lewis, Liam Sebastien, Johnson Charles, Donwell Hector, Craig Emmanuel, Lindon Lawrence, Keddy Lesporis, Gairy Mathurin, Nelon Pascal, Shane Shillingford, Deighton Butler.
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