By Sean Devers
The Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) became the last of the six Franchises of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) to sign the Host Country Agreement (HCA) with the Guyana Government.
According to Minster of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth & Sports, Dr. George Norton, the Agreement signed yesterday at his office on Main Street Georgetown, took so long to be signed since the proposal had to be ratified by Cabinet.
Permanent Secretary Mrs. Melissa Tucker-Grimes signed on behalf of Government while Trinidadian, Omar Khan, Team Operations Manager of the local franchise, signed on behalf of the GAW.
The Agreement, which according to Dr. Norton was the same as preceding years, was presented to him by Khan after it was signed. The Warriors have reached the finals on four occasions and were twice in the semi-finals in the six-year history of the event dubbed ‘the biggest Party in Sports’ since CPL T20 cricket was first played in 2013 when Jamaica beat Guyana in the inaugural final.
This year, the Warriors will play five home matches, with the first three set for Thursday September 5 when the Warriors oppose recently renamed St. Lucia Zouks at Providence from 18:00hrs.
The Warriors, captained by Pakistani Shoib Malik, then face-off with St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots from 20:00hrs on Saturday September 7 before battling former Champions Barbados Tridents the next day from 17:00hrs.
The final two home games will be contested on October 3 and 4 when the home team oppose two-time champions Jamaica Tallawahs and defending champions and three time CPL winners, Trinbago Knight Riders respectively.
According to Khan, the Guyana/Trinidad game has already been sold out while adding that two young Guyanese players (to be selected by the GCB) will be involved in the Warriors’ training and practice sessions which starts today at Providence.
Khan thanked the Guyana Government and the public for their continued support and informed that eight local players are in the Warriors squad. “We want to give the young players a chance to impress. Last year Shimron Hetymer, Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford were all bought by IPL Franchises” Khan said.
Chris Barnwell, ironically set to play against the Warriors on Thursday is the only other Guyanese to participate in the IPL.
“The overseas players should to here by tonight (last night) while Head Coach South African Johan Botha is already in Guyana. We have planned an indoor session for tomorrow (today) at Providence while we will have a practice match on Monday,” informed Khan who has been with the Warriors since CPL was inaugurated.
The GAW have been the most consistent team but have not managed to lift the CPL trophy and Khan puts that down to players not being mentally strong as they should be in pressure situations and when faced with sea of Red in the stands in Trinidad.
“CPL and Trinidad has an agreement for the finals but I can’t speak for CPL with regards to the play-offs” answered Khan when asked about the home advantage of having the play-offs games in Guyana.
A few eyebrows were raised when Khan announced that 22-year-old West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer was appointed ‘Director of batting’ for the Warriors. The reasoning behind this position might be, like at school or in youth teams, the most mischievous youngster is put to head the Disciplinary Committee, forcing them the lead by example.
Giving the most erratic shot maker that position hopefully could make the ultra aggressive left-hander think in a more responsible and mature manner and this could also hopefully help his own batting.
Dr. George Norton said it was significant that this was the first time his office was filled with so many persons from the media.
“Cricket is in air and we all know what cricket means to the Guyanese people. This (signing) is now out of the way and we now look forward to Guyana hosting some wonderful and exciting matches” said Minister Norton.
Guyana Amazon Warriors squad: Shoib Malik (Capt), Saurabh Netravalkar, Shadab Khan, Ben Laughlin, Chris Green, Nicolas Pooran, Brandon King, Odean Smith, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Anthony Bramble, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Veerasammy Permaul, Romario Shepherd, Clinton Pestano, Johan Botha (Head Coach).
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