It’s the battle of the also rans, the lowly-rated, the cellar dwellers and there might be a host of other similar phrases that can aptly describe today’s game between Guyana and the Windward Islands.
The match is billed to take place at Queen’s Park in Grenada and Guyana will be looking to end their decade-old drought of not winning the regional four-day title.
The last occasion that Guyana won the regional four-day competition was in 1998 and then they were forced to share the President’s Cup title with the Leeward Islands.
They did win the Busta International Shield in 2002 mainly though Carl Hooper’s productive batting and inspired leadership but that was for the top two teams after the Busta Cup competition would have ended.
Not so long ago the Windward Islands were regional cricket’s whipping boys while Guyana occupied the upper echelons of the sport along with Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Now, however, Guyana can be found on the lower rungs of the points’ ladder.
They ended last year’s competition in the penultimate position, with 21 points from their six matches ahead of the Combined Campuses and Colleges and one rung below the Windward Islands who ended with just one point more.
Guyana’s cricket performances continue to mirror that of the West Indies team, plunging to bottomless depths.
If the truth be told, Guyana’s cricket without the test players in Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan and to a lesser extent Sewnarine Chattergoon and Travis Dowlin is not much of a force these days and last year the team failed to reach even the semi-finals of the regional limited overs cricket competition.
What made that performance worse was that the tournament was being played in their own backyard on pitches they know almost as well as the palms of their hands.
What made the performance disastrous and raised eyebrows was their defeat to the Windward Islands.
Yes! The same Windward Islands team they will oppose today (with, I guess, a few exceptions) in the four day competition sponsored by the West Indies Cricket Board because yet another sponsor pulled out.
Regardless of the reasons given by sponsors Carib Beer, unless the players do their utmost to lift the standard of the cricket they will be playing in this new double round format, there won’t be too many sponsors willing to invest in this tournament.
So its day one of a match where the Guyanese should be seeking revenge for their defeat in the one-dayers last year.
They will find it a tough task having failed to defeat the Windward Islands outright in recent times.
In fact, the Windwards have had the better of recent encounters winning last year’s match at the Providence National Stadium on first innings despite Travis Dowlin’s 176 and Chanderpaul’s 78.
Cricket fans will remember Chanderpaul leaving the match and travelling to Trinidad to collect an award an incident which incensed the Windward Islands manager Lockhart Sebastien.
“This is not a curry goat match,” Sebastien said then.
“This is a first-class encounter and things like this are allowed to happen and we wonder why West Indies cricket is in the state that it is in,” he had said.
The Windwards though took the match a bit more seriously and responded to Dowlin’s century and Guyana’s challenging 396 all out by posting 467 with Liam Sebastien slamming 133 batting at number four.
Unlike Guyana whose batting, is usually dependent on just one or two persons, the Windwards top order was consistent with Devon Smith getting 59, fellow opener Miles Bascombe 54, Andre Fletcher 29 and Darren Sammy 72.
This year president of the Guyana Cricket Board Chetram Singh has made it abundantly clear that such indiscipline would not be tolerated.
Singh told Stabroek Sport that the manager of the team was given the responsibility to leave any player behind who was late for the team bus for practice or match situations.
He also urged the players to be disciplined. Let’s hope that they heard and will heed him.