By Sean Devers in Trinidad in association with Carib Beer, Digicel, Giftland Office Max,
Payless Varity Store & Leisure Inn & Car Rentals
The Christopher Barnwell led Guyana side could face their toughest battle in the preliminary round of the NAGICO Regional Super50 cricket tournament when they face-off with Ireland at the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad in their opening game from 14:00hrs today.
This is the first of three Day/Night matches for the South Americans and a win tonight could
provide a huge confidence booster for them since International side Ireland has already qualified for the 2015 World Cup and will oppose West Indies in two T20 games and an ODI in Jamaica at the completion of this tournament.
Guyana’s main concern today could be the slow run rate of their much touted batting line-up and that could be the main focus at practice sessions. Ireland’s Skipper William Porterfield, at age 26 has already played 67 ODIs, more than anyone on the Guyana side except Shiv Chanderpaul who has played 268 but none since March 2011.
His side is very experienced in 50-over cricket but this is the first match for both sides and Guyana could hold the slim advantage in terms of pitch and weather conditions today.
With six ODI centuries to his name, Porterfield began his one-day career with two early hundreds and he came back from the recent World Cricket League in Kenya as the tournament’s second-highest scorer.
An excellent 85 in the 2007 World Cup helped Ireland to beat Bangladesh and enabled him to earn a professional contract with Gloucestershire in county cricket before he moved to Warwickshire and today he could play a major role for the Dutch unit.
The experienced Ed Joyce is expected to provide support with the bat for Ireland on what is expected to be a good cricket pitch with some help for the spinners and some swing for the bowlers in the second innings of the contest.
Kevin O’Brian has two tons and 62 wickets with his medium pace and is one of the leading all-rounders
in the tournament and could prove dangerous with both bat and ball for the Irishmen. He will expect support from Alex Cusack, the left-handed Tim Murtagh who was born in London, Wicket Keeper Nial O’Brian, South African born Max Sorensen and Paul Sterling with the bat.
George Dockrell is a 21-year-old left arm spinner who first came to the Caribbean as a school boy in 2007, playing his first World Cup and is expected to lead the Irish spin attack on a surface he should enjoy.
Fast Bowlers Stuart Thompson, Craig Young and John Mooney should play important roles with the ball while Andrew Mcbrine is the baby of the team at 20. This is one of the strongest Guyana sides selected in years and seven of the top order batsmen have played for the West Indies while the bowling attack includes two Test spinners and Ronsford Beaton, one of the quickest bowlers in the competition.
Shiv Chanderpaul, Guyana’s most capped 50 overs batsman with 82 matches to his name, should open and is the glue that holds the batting together. He is not the fastest scorer in the world but if the others bat around him and rotate the strike Guyana could get a good foundation.
Trevon Griffith is a shot maker and once he tempers his aggression could provide the perfect foil for Chanderpaul or Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has the most tons at this level, Narsingh Deonarine, Leon Johnson, Barnwell and Royston Crandon, who have all played ODIs for the West Indies, to build on.
Assad Fudadin is also a Test player but if he plays he could be asked to open the batting while his medium pace gives Barnwell another bowling option. Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Deonarine and Crandon are expected to do the bulk of the spinning while Beaton and Barnwell could share the new ball.
Paul Wintz and Robin Bacchus -the only player in the side never to have played at this level- could be the ones on the bench while it could be a toss-up between Fudadin and Griffith for the other spot since Anthony Bramble, who could also contribute with the bat, is the Keeper.
The Guyanese practiced at Cova Wednesday and at the outdoor nets at Queens Park yesterday. Coach Esaun Crandon expressed satisfaction with the pre-game sessions.
“Everyone is excited to get going and all of the players are fit and ready. We are banking on our powerful batting to give us an early win,” Crandon disclosed.
“Its maybe a good thing we are coming up against Ireland in our first match since they may not have adjusted yet to the conditions here. We are playing one match at a time and we have respect for everyone but we are confident of doing well,” Crandon added.
A lot of Guyanese reside in the Twin-Island Republic and the crowd should be a large one with plenty of Guyanese support, especially since it is a weekend tonight.
The winner of tonight’s game should be the team topping zone ‘A’ which also includes defending champions Windward Islands and Jamaica.
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