On October 16, 2017, one of the major headlines in the sports section of the Stabroek News read, `Champs, at last, Essequibo win maiden tournament.’
If I’m not mistaken, that headline was plastered on the back page.
Skipper Anthony Adams, who been on the receiving end of a few heavy defeats at the hands of Demerara and Berbice, led Essequibo to championship honours in the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Jaguars three- day league.
It was a thrilling day for the cricketers, both past and present, from Guyana’s largest county which, before that triumph, had been considered the whipping boys on Guyana’s cricket landscape.
The big question now is whether they can replicate that feat.
Nine months on, while there is no telling whether they can, coach Ryan Hercules and the hierarchy of the Board are doing everything within their grasp to have the boys from the Cinderella County ready to defend their crown.
From all indications, the players are also keen to prove that last season’s display was not a fluke, or a flash in the pan performance.
The team, in that regard, is receiving support from the business community and a few political offices as they look to hold training camps ahead of this year’s tournament.
“We are aiming to host six-weekend training camps in Essequibo,” Hercules told Stabroek Sport.
He said the team intends to begin preparations as soon as the dust has settled on their championship run even as they gear up for another.
“We will be working on players’ mental and physical fitness where a number of fitness examinations will be done over the six weekend periods,” Hercules added.
“We’ll also be involved in a number of practice matches… being the defending champions in the three-day format, we’ll have to put a lot of work in so when the tournament starts, we will be ready for competitive cricket.
“We are giving ourselves enough time to be prepared for the tournament,” he disclosed adding that Essequibo cricket is hoping to come of age this year in a bid to be taken seriously.
He noted that his unit is being rewarded for last season’s efforts with the business community and county’s administrative office in the county of their roots, throwing their support behind the team.
Some of the business he mentioned “who wants to see Essequibo cricket moving forward” are V Net Communications, West Vibes Bar (Tuschen), Supreme Petroleum, and Iman Bacchus and Son.
A few individual Canada-based franchises as well as cricketer Dilon Heyliger have also chipped in.
Essequibo’s Regional Chairman (RC) Devanand Ramdatt is also supporting the team.
Essequibo will undoubtedly start as one of the favourite teams to win this year’s tournament.
The narrative, however, won’t be as easy to rewrite since other teams will be gunning to dethrone the champions and will no doubt remove any sense of complacency they once harboured.
At the very least, Essequibians will be hoping for another competitive showing from their franchise.
Last season, they were well led by skipper Adams, who bagged 52 wickets and amassed 260 runs, which included a century to cap off an excellent all-around effort.
Ricardo Adams also had a stellar showing with both ball and bat. In one particular knock, he bludgeoned 11 maximums in an unbeaten innings of 116 to spearhead a massive win over Georgetown.
He ended the tournament with 23 wickets and 328 runs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Kemol Savory was also a high flyer in the tournament, scoring 465 runs which included a century. He gloved the best wicketkeeper award after completing 22 dismissals while West Indies Test selectee Keemo Paul tallied 230 runs from just three matches with a best of 175 while snaring nine scalps.
A repeat of those performances will certainly land the defending champions in good stead.