For a nation starved of success, Guyana’s progress to the Champions League Twenty20 should be the kind of fillip Trinidad and Tobago gave the sport in the Caribbean with their exploits in the inaugural edition.
T&T had endeared themselves to all and sundry with their undying passion and sunny brand of cricket – Adrian Barath, Kieron Pollard and Bravo brothers revelling in the conditions. “We’re not just representing our country but the whole of Caribbean Islands and we hope our performances here will put the smile back on the faces of our families, friends and supporters,” T&T captain Darren Ganga had said then. They famously backed up their words, but their lofty deeds – runners-up performance – will be a tough act to follow for Ramnaresh Sarwan’s Guyana in the latest edition in South Africa.
Like it was with their predecessors, Guyana’s credentials are under the scanner what with Dwayne Bravo terming “T&T the best short-game team in the Caribbean.”
Sour grapes? Probably, but not even Bravo’s whirlwind 55 (20b) could stop Guyana from advancing to the final of Caribbean T20 by a slender four-run margin – the eventual champions posting 175 and bundling out T&T for 171. T&T had topped Carib Zone A with 12 points while Jamaica finished second with eight points. Barbados topped Zone B with nine points and Guyana were second with nine to set up the semifinals.
In a thrilling final Guyana held their nerve to win by one wicket and with just a delivery to spare; Jonathan Foo again coming to Guyana’s rescue with a 17-ball 42. Foo, the wiry middle order bat of Chinese descent, Sarwan, Travis Dowlin and Narsingh Deonarine will marshall Guyana’s batting resources and the Caribs will look to their spin trio of Lennox Cush, Devendra Bishoo and Royston Crandon for bowling sustenance.
All their exploits, though, will be history when Guyana front up to the challenge in Group B of the Champions League.
They are an unknown quantity – pretty much like T&T were when they arrived in India – and that could work very well to Guyana’s advantage. Just as well that they resolved a pay dispute with their board before heading for the competition.
Guyana play their first match of the tournament against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Centurion on Sept 12. The other teams in the group are Mumbai Indians, Lions and South Australia.
In reports coming out of the Caribbean, Sarwan had said that his was “an easy team to lead since I have a great relationship with all the players. Team spirit is the best I’ve seen in any Guyana team I’ve been in.”
Carl Moore, the manager of the victorious Guyana team in the Caribbean T20, has said: “We will be working harder now because we want to try and live up to what T&T did last year when they came second. Even go a step further and do better than T&T and hopefully give the Caribbean some pride,” Moore said. Pride apart, there will be plenty of surprises too.