Can Guyana qualify for Club Champions League?

Asks Marlon Munroe
Trinidad & Tobago set a precedent last year when they reached the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Club Champions League in India.

Now the big question is whether Guyana can repeat their performance in the 2006 final of the Stanford Twenty20 against T&T as they prepare for the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) inaugural Caribbean Cup Twenty20 tournament in Barbados today against the Windward Islands.

A win today will move them one step closer to the Club Champions League in South Africa in September. National Coach Rabindranauth Seeram had said to Stabroek Sport that Guyana will be approaching the tournament one game at a time. Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan had earlier noted that he was  wary of the Windward Islands team adding that  his team will not be taking the Windwards for granted especially since the team possess a cadre of experienced players.

Both trains of thought are apt. The Windwards are no longer considered minnows of Regional cricket and they have had recent success over Guyana who has languished in the bottom half of the Caribbean grouping for cricket over the past few years.

Sarwan said that the strength of the team lies in the batting department but there are also good bowlers that will make a big impact throughout the nine-day tournament. Seeram had pointed out that Guyana has always done well in the shorter version of the game and the current “unity and togetherness in the team” will take Guyana a far way in the tournament.

The captain and coach have similar expectations for the team but the actual outcome is hazy especially since these utterances would have been heard before. Sarwan said that South Africa is definitely the motivator but readily pointed out that he has asked his cricketers to focus on the tournament ahead that will be played in Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Guyana will be playing in Zone B, which includes host Barbados, Windward Islands and the Combined Campuses and Colleges.

Guyana’s batting line up is a strong one on paper. There is Christopher Barnwell, who has had relative success in this format of the game, West Indies Test players Travis Dowlin, Narsingh Deonarine and Sarwan.

To bolster that combination there is the return of specialist Twenty20 player Lennox Cush, who was also in the 2006 team that won the Stanford Twenty20 tournament in Antigua. Young Jonathan Foo, who has been designated as the bottom order hitter according to coach Seeram, and West Indies A middle order batsman Assad Fudadin are also in the team.

In the bowling department Esaun Crandon will be spearheading, ably supported by Barnwell, top leg spinner Devindra Bishoo, off spinner Steven Jacobs, who is no rabbit with the bat and debutant pacer Paul Wintz.

In the Windwards team there is former West Indies leg spinner Rawle Lewis, Devon Smith and Andre Fletcher, at the top of the order, and Darren Sammy in the middle, who have all been successful in the shorter version of the game.

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