Defending Caribbean T20 champions Guyana are aiming for victory when they play Trinidad and Tobago in a four-team Cricket Festival next week at Guaracara Park in Pointe-a-Pierre.
Former West Indies fast bowler Reon King, the Guyana Cricket Board’s Cricket Development Officer said yesterday in an interview that his team will be seeking to emphasize their claim to retain the regional honours with a winning performance in the Cricket Festival.
Organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (T&TCB), the cricket festival pits the practice starved home team against Guyana, a T&T ‘B’ team and the Cricket Academy’s Under-23s on December 28, 29 and 30.
According to president of the T&TCB, Azim Bassarath, the Cricket Festival will afford the national team led by Daren Ganga a much-needed opportunity to get some crucial on-field match practice against top class opposition.
Over the past few weeks trial matches involving the T&T cricketers have all been ruined by rain restricting their activities to the indoor nets. King, 30, who played 19 Test matches and 50 One-Day Internationals for the West Indies said the Guyana side under captain Ramnaresh Sarwan will be taking the opposition very seriously in the Cricket Festival.
“It is the ideal preparation for us going into the Caribbean T20 tournament. We have been in camp since December 13 and have been focusing on our physical fitness and have satisfied all the requirements of the West Indies Cricket Board Manual,” said King.
King, who during his heyday was compared to the legendary Jamaican fast bowler Michael Holding for his silky smooth delivery stride said Guyana will be depending on their captain Sarwan and the vast experience of middle-order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the Cricket Festival.
He however lamented the absence of Narsingh Deonarine in the line-up due to a shoulder injury which has also ruled him out of the Caribbean T20 tournament but expressed confidence that the team has the batting strength to absorb the loss.
King said Chanderpaul who is in his 18th season with the national team is an inspirational figure in the line-up and can be counted on to encourage his teammates by the mere presence.
“Chanderpaul has a wealth of experience and after all these years can still make a valuable contribution to the team,” King said.
Though overlooked by the West Indies selectors for the recent tour to Sri Lanka, stylish right-handed batsman Sarwan will also be anxious to put to rest concerns about his fitness with an impressive run in the Cricket Festival.
And King said exciting young batsman Jonathan Foo, who starred in Guyana’s regional T20 win in Trinidad earlier this year is expected to feature once again if they are to repeat as champions.
“Foo must carry on and produce in all three forms of the game and show that he can adapt to put pressure on the selectors to include him in the West Indies team,” said King.
He said despite the fact that Guyana did not impress in the Airtel Champions League T20 in South Africa, they have worked on their deficiencies and look forward to returning to winning ways.