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A victorious Guyana team.

USA Guyana Gears For Historic Tour

By Orin Davidson

Apart from being part of a historic series, pride is an important element in the USA Guyana team’s psyche in their upcoming maiden tour of the homeland.

Having created a another slice of history themselves by playing unbeaten in both the 50 overs and Twenty/20 competitions of the Ahmad Caribbean Cup series, the 2007 double champions are not expected to lie down and roll over.

That is despite them not being at full strength, not having played for close to three months and having to adapt to a completely different climate.

The bumps may seem treacherous and could deter most teams, but USA Guyana's management was aware of all the negatives before making the decision to do the historic trip.

They knew that almost half of the original team which brushed aside the likes of Trinidad and Jamaica, would be unavailable.
And that rustiness would affect the players, the great majority of whom have not lifted a bat or threw their arm over with a ball since the summer season closed off in what seems ages ago.

What is more important is that USA Guyana earned themselves the right to make a historic trip where no other representative squad from the Diaspora ever ventured.

Says captain Steve Massiah. "It was the first time any team won both competitions (Caribbean Cup) in the same year and it is deserving of us to be the first to tour Guyana".

The skipper does not expect many observers to give them much of a chance against even a less than full strength Guyana team.

"We know the odds are against us but it would be a mistake to count us, we are determined to make more than a match of it all," Massiah declared.

Even if he cannot afford to come over as overly confident, Massiah points out that the tour means more to his team than just wins and losses.

"It is an opportunity to strengthen ties between the two countries which can go a long towards developing the game on both sides."

For the record, USA Guyana will be without Vishal Nagamoottoo, Andrew Gonsalves, Kevin Darlington, Mahadeo Prashad and Deryck Kallicharran, who cannot make the trip for a variety of reasons, job wise and otherwise.

"We will be handicapped in that sense," the captain admits, but he expects much from the most experienced hands in the side who will be available.

Massiah, Lennox Cush and Reon King, the most accomplished of the 14-man squad are the big names and the captain is optimistic.

"I expect Cush, McGarrell, King and myself to lead from the front, that has always been the case even when we have all our players available". he stated.

Prolific all-rounder Sudesh Dhaniram has been back in the Cooperative Republic ever since the curtains closed on the 2007 New York summer, and much will also depend on his batting and bowling contributions as much as the side has been doing all through the years.

At the same time USA Guyana has grabbed the opportunity to expose two young players they expect to play important roles in the near future.

Gregory Sewdial and Karran Ganesh were not part of the team this year but have shown the promise that could lead to big things in the future.

Ganesh, a former Guyana Under-15 captain had a free run with the Youth Team in the Caribbean Cup, in his first year as a senior. His exploits in the junior ranks are well known and were it not for a qualification abnormality he would've been on the United States Under-19 team's debut World Cup appearance in Sri Lanka last year.

National Under-19 MVP Sewdial has had his displays e well documented this year and it was a bold step that could well bear fruit to have him included.

With Narsingh Deonarine heading off to Zimbabwe with the West Indies team and Ramnaresh Sarwan injured, the strength of the Guyana team will be affected somewhat.

But it would be foolhardy to presume the Guyana Cricket Board will give short shrift to the three-match series.

The Board is making every effort to ensure that the two 40 overs and single Twenty20 games live up to the hype.

From this distance Travis Dowling, star of Guyana's Stanford Twenty/20 title triumph last year, is most likely to captain the lineup for USA Guyana's challenge.

The Demerara captain has been in sparking form in the Inter County series and most likely is next in line to lead the country.

Sewnarine Chattergoon, with West Indies one day experience under his belt, Royston Crandon, Assad Fudadin, Leon Johnson, Stephen Jacobs and Derwin Christian should make up the batting lineup.

Eusan Crandon is likely to take care of the bowling responsibility with the likes of fellow paceman, youngster Jeremy Gordon. A wealth of spinners led by Adrian Permaul, Zaheer Mohammed, and Chris Barnwell can be chosen to complete the attack.

The Guyana Cricket Board has assured of its firm commitment to the series. Any team varying much in composition from the above mentioned core would be betrayal of that promise.

Massiah says they have planned a practice session on the day they are scheduled to arrive in Guyana to iron out the rust.

It's the best they could do in the circumstances, which is why the dependence on Cush, McGarrell and King who have been active in Guyana, would be stronger than usual.

A large contingent of New York fans are expected to make the trip and regardless of the results on Friday at the GCC ground where the first 40 overs clash is scheduled, or on Saturday December 1 for the Twenty20 clash at the Providence Stadium and the final encounter at Albion on December 4, they have the Kings Jewelry Duck Curry competition to enjoy on December 2 at Starlight Drive In.

With the reigning New York champ expected to be on show and all the trimmings that go with annual stagings in the Big Apple, the Duck Curry festival is sure to be highlight of the next week.

Even if the cricket team wins, loses or draws.
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