By Colin E. H. Croft
No, this is not about the film of the same name, starring Harrison Ford, and the fictitious efforts to curb the drug trade in Latin America – great film!
This is about Ramnaresh Sarwan, Guyana’s cricket captain, and his team, strangely named “The Amazon Conquerors” – the Amazon River does not run through Guyana – and their quest to win the 2010 Champions League in South Africa.
I wonder why that river’s name was used for this. While Guyana is, geographically, in South America, the countries actually touched by the mighty Amazon, the world’s mightiest river, and lifeblood of the world’s largest eco-system, are Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia.
Guyana does have contact with the Amazon Basin, that massive area drained annually by the great river. The Basin’s northern boundary is the Guiana Highlands, from which the majestic Mount Roraima, on the Brazil-Venezuela-Guyana border, emerges. Perhaps, though the Guyanese have the greatness of the river on their ambitious minds!
Harrison Ford did say, pointedly, in the film: “There is nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide!” For the Guyanese players, now; ditto!
As the late, great performer, Michael Jackson would have also suggested; this is it! Starting today (Sunday), Guyana will try to conquer the T-20 club cricket world.
“It is important that we should do the things that we did which helped us to win the Caribbean competition”, says Sarwan. “We have lots of young, inexperienced players, but they are all very capable of springing surprises on the other teams. We have been studying a lot of the opposition players, but we are more focused on what we have to do. We are looking to stick to our basics and to try to do the best that we can.”
“Trinidad & Tobago were the runners-up the last time, and we hope to go one better,” Sarwan continued. “They did so well last year when they were not expected to, and we beat them in the Caribbean T-20, so that gives us a lot of confidence. The T&T performance is a great motivating factor. We would like to take that final step. We look forward to the challenge.”
Yes, for the Guyanese, it has been, on and off the filed, and certainly will continue to be, on the field at least, a massive challenge! But, only the really strong survive, and win!
Roger Harper, the former Guyana and West Indies all-rounder and coach, brought in to help Guyana prepare for the effort, put it correctly: “The preparation for this sort of competition is more in the mind, and the head, than in the body. Technically and physically, the players are up to scratch. How they cope with the mental pressures in stressful situations will be the main factor for success.”
Let me digress here, for reminders pertinent to this C-L 2010 series.
When Trinidad & Tobago played in the 2009 Champions League, and if you will have read my articles on their input last year, you will have noted that in ‘Trinidad & Tobago can go all the way’ – 15 October 2009 – I did predict T&T would have done well.
By then, they had only won two games, but those included beating the 2008 champions, the Deccan Chargers. The rest has become quite nostalgic history in some places.
Also, when the 2010 FIFA World Cup was on recently, I would remind all that I did predict that Spain would win, but that both Portugal and Holland had outside chances to win too in my article ‘Back to the future for West Indies cricket’ – 13 June 2010.
My prognostications were so good that I had two of my three teams in the final – Spain and Holland – even though, honestly, Germany and perhaps Uruguay played better.
Look, I am two things that are supposedly associated with predicting the future well.
Physiologically, I am one-quarter Wapishiana (Wapixana) Indian, an Amerindian tribe that still frequents the Upper Demerara River and also that Roraima area, in Essequibo, referenced here earlier. My great-grandfather was a full blooded Wapishiana Indian.
Of course, being born Guyanese, I will probably always hear of obeah and of baccoos, and what they can, or cannot do, for anyone who either practices, or believes in them.
Even with this history and background, I really do not know what to predict of Guyana’s 2010 Champions League contribution. Of one thing I certainly am sure. The Amazon Conquerors do present a very clear but unpredictable danger to any team that they play.
Before that, though, Guyana’s presence in South Africa came dangerously close to being derailed before it even started, after they had won, quite excitingly, the Caribbean T-20. The Guyana Cricket Board had fights, and even court cases with, or against, the West Indies Players Association. Those included injunctions that are still to be concluded.
Along with that came news; maybe shocks too; that three of Guyana’s stalwart, veteran and absolutely necessary present-day cricketers; Travis Dowling, Narsingh Deonarine and Sarwan himself; were among those who had been dropped – contracts not renewed – from the West Indies Cricket Board’s list of centrally contracted players; 2010 – 2011.
Why this was done is still conjecture and the subject of many queries, with reasons and reasoning going to and fro. One fact is immovable. No team, especially with its veteran players receiving such information at such a crucial time, could be under more immediate pressure. Roger Harper was correct. Coping with such is all about the brain power!
Guyana’s Group B includes Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Highveld Lions and South Australia Redbacks. Guyana must beat Bangalore before even thinking of Mumbai Indians; Dwayne Bravo, Sachin and Kieron Pollard included; next Thursday. For Guyana to win this competition, they will have to overcome many dangers! Tough!
Bangalore has stalwarts of international cricket, and some emerging players too. The wily veteran Anil Kumble is captain. He has players like Rahul Dravid, Dullon du Preez, Abhimanyu Mithun, Jacques Kallis, Praveen Kumar, Dale Steyn, Ross Taylor, Robin Utappa and Cameron White, all internationals, to aid and abet his efforts.
Guyana will rely on Sarwan, whose nerve, batsmanship and massive experiences will count at least double, for some of his inexperienced players. Christopher Barnwell’s all round athleticism will be necessary and useful. Davindra Bishoo’s diminutive stature belies his true importance, with his flat, skiddy leg-spinners, not unlike Kumble.
Sewnarine Chattergoon has international experiences and must curb his arrogance, but can do well. Derwin Christian and Esuan Crandon are hard workers, while Royston Crandon and Lennox Cush, especially, are players with excellent temperament and both batting and bowling abilities. Much will be hoped for from these latter two.Narsingh Deonarine and Travis Dowling are experienced, recent international batsmen and will have the added incentive of showing all that they belong. Jonathan Foo, and Assad Fudadin, especially the former, has a chance to light up the façade. Both are unfazed and quite brave youngsters. Fudadin has pedigree too, being Alvin Kallicharran’s nephew. Steve Jacobs and Richard Ramdeen have played WI youth, while Paul Wintz can be very useful too.
Starting today, we could only hope that the Amazon Conquerors represent well, overcoming all of the clear and present dangers of C-L 2010. Enjoy!
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