FIVE-time Caribbean Premier League (CPL) bridesmaids, the Guyana Amazon Warriors are hoping the 2022 tournament will be a special one. The Amazon Warriors have yet to lift the CPL trophy, but have come agonisingly close five times. No team has lost as many finals as Guyana.
Defeats to Jamaica Tallawahs (2013 and 2016), Barbados Tridents (2014 and 2019) and Trinbago Knight Riders (2018) have left Guyana Amazon Warriors fans despondent and desperate for success.
Their fans will need to channel that desperation into positive energy this year as the CPL knockout phase and final will be held in Guyana for the first time. The cricket-loving Guyanese public could be the difference this year to help their team across the line when it counts the most.
In 2019 Guyana looked destined to finally lift the trophy after an amazing campaign that saw them lose just one match in the entire competition. Unfortunately, after 11 successive victories, that solitary loss came in the final against Barbados.
Asked how the team leaves the disappointment of past tournaments behind, Guyana Amazon Warriors public relations officer Romario Samaroo told Newsday, “Every year the franchise starts fresh and we continue to support and trust in our family.”
Although keen to play in front of their fans in the business end of the tournament, Samaroo said they are not looking too far ahead.
“Playing at home, in front of our home crowd is always joyful. We love the support we get from the fans. The finals and knockouts are a long way from now and we are focusing on taking it one match at a time,” he said.
The franchise’s selection of players this year suggests it will be looking to capitalise on the usual spin-friendly local conditions.
Leading the bowling attack will be South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who has arguably been the best bowler in the tournament. At 43 years old, Tahir remains a handful in the shortest format with his guile and clever variations.
Since making his CPL debut in 2018, Tahir has been the most successful spinner. He is already tenth all-time among wickets (60) in just 43 games and boasts the second-best bowling average (16.48).
At Providence Stadium, Tahir is going to be a nightmare for opposing batsmen.
Also in the ranks are a string of left-arm weapons – South African Tabraiz Shamsi and Guyana’s Veerasammy Permaul and Gudakesh Motie – to torment batsmen on the slow and turning pitches.
Motie, 27, made his West Indian T20 debut last year and has broken into the ODI and Test teams this year. A first-class hundred this season proved he’s no rabbit with the bat and could provide a dual threat this CPL.
In a change from custom, Guyana is expected to be led by one of their own. For just the second time in the CPL, a Guyanese player is likely to be named captain. West Indian batsman Shimron Hetmyer is tipped for the job.
All eyes will be on the 25-year-old who recently returned to West Indian colours after passing a fitness test. Last Sunday his fitness and immense talent were on full display with a top score of 56 from 35 balls in a losing effort against India in Florida.
Hetmyer will be eager to let his batting do the talking and show he can be a leader as well.
Samaroo said Hetmyer’s experience and maturity will augur well for the Warriors.
“Shimron has been with the franchise since about 2016, he has grown in maturity since and we expect him to have fun and enjoy his batting in keeping with the team plans.”
Irish all-rounder Paul Stirling and South African batsman Heinrich Klaasen will be relied on to bring some international pedigree while the power hitting of Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith could do damage late in an innings.
Guyana Amazon Warriors squad: Shimron Hetmyer, Odean Smith, Romari Shepherd, Keemo Paul, Imran Tahir, Gudakesh Motie, Colin Ingram, Paul Stirling, Jermaine Blackwood, Ronsford Beaton, Shai Hope, Veerasammy Permaul, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Heinrich Klaasen, Junior Sinclair, Matthew Nandu.