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Ed Ahmad Caribbean Cup Giants Collide Today
Guyana’s Strength Should Topple T&T

By Orin Davidson
It is supposed to be the biggest day in New York cricket for the year today (September 1), if not the biggest in the entire United States, although the Californians will dispute this.

But as far as the Trinidad and Guyana team fans are concerned, today is their D-Day, the most eagerly anticipated of all 120 days of the season so far.

Long before the start of this year’s Ed Ahmad Caribbean Cup, everyone know it would come down to this, the day when the two most successful teams in New York's biggest competition - Trinidad and Guyana, clash to decide which is the best, at least for now.

Though a Twenty20 competition has been added to the series for two years now, the 50 overs version still carries all the prestige , all the honor and the bragging rights.

And it is for that golden title Trinidad and Guyana will go head to head in a repeat of the inaugural final of the Ahmad brand back in 2003, at Floyd Bennett Field.

Guyana will bring all the big name players, the egos and the reputation, the latter created way back when the competition was the New York Red Stripe Cup.

In those days they were virtually unbeatable year-in year-out, but of late Trinidad has stolen their thunder, since the inauguration of the Ed Ahmad Group of Companies assumed sponsorship, by winning three titles of the last four contested.

Trinidad feel their have not received enough credit for winning those three titles, and expect to finally get their full due, by making it a hat trick of title wins today.

They have done in the past without the big names, relying on team -play and solid leadership instead. But those strengths might need serious re-enforcement to stop a powerful Guyana lineup, that is pulling out the stops to assume their place, as they claim, rightfully at the pinnacle of the Big Apple’s cricket.

And based on their performances thus far, who would doubt they look ready to achieve their stated objective? They have trounced every opposing team in their three group matches, with a measure of disdain not seen in recent times.

A renewed sense of team play with the star power has been the key to Guyana's rampage through the Group preliminary stage that culminated with a 144-run humbling of Jamaica.

Today they have an embarrassment of riches that's likely to give team captain Steve Massiah and the selectors a bigger headache to select the final 11, than any of the challenges posed by Jamaica, the Windward Islands and New York Youths.

From ex West Indies players Reon King and Neil McGarrell, to the newcomers Telson Johnson and Sham Mahadeo, they have such depth of talent, Guyana could spilt the team in two and with a few additions, and still have two teams to compete successfully.

Beginning at the top of the batting order, a tussle for positions is in the making with the likes of Andrew Gonsalves, Vishal Nagamootoo and Mahadeo to choose from.

The experience of Gonsalves and Nagamootoo, both first class players, should be the opening pair, but then you never know.

Massiah has stated they will go the horses for courses formula, but for Trinidad whose attack is more spin-based, the experienced men should be the answer.

Down the middle, there is Massiah and Lennox Cush, Sudesh Dhaniram and Bhim George. Add McGarrell and you have a proven big game all-rounder, whose introduction this year has given the batting and bowling extra bite.

With King on board, the bowling is as solid as ever which makes the competition for places in the attack a stressful experience.

Kevin Darlington has carried it seemingly forever and he is still available, then Johnson came into being this year with a dream debut against Jamaica, when the main two were unavailable.

Dhaniram would rate among the best medium pacers in all of America and McGarrell has been a first choice spinner throughout his first class career. If that is not enough George has a great record with his left arm orthodox spin in America, which in accompaniment with his batting, makes him a certainty anytime.

As a result fans of ex Guyana and West Indies 'B' player Deryck Kallichrran are bemoaning his exclusion from the final 11 of late.

Massiah whose captaincy has come under the microscope has not had reason to dig deep with super strategies so far. In any case the likes of Cush, King, McGarrell and Dhaniram bring valuable leadership experience.

Trinidad also has much of that, and confidence too, which they feel is enough, to add to their back-to back title triumphs in 2005 and 2006.

Dennis Rampersaud can bat as well as any player in New York on his day. But he has not been required to so do for Trinidad to coast to the final as the combined contributions of opener Denzil James, Danish Ramsingh, Daryll Roopchand captain Glen Lorrick, David Mohamed and Ashook Bally have been enough.

But they might need more than just good performances in general to continue that winning streak today. The require firepower of the type they could not produce against Jamaica in the Twenty20 semi-finals last week.

Richard Sieuchand, a former first class player in the West Indies is their new ball attack spearhead, as was Mukesh Persad and Rodney Sookall.

They have had useful performances thus far without being explosive.

On their day though, either of the three could be unplayable.

If they have not had that one day this season, one suspects it has to be today, for at least two of them.

Failing which, that title winning streak Trinidad accumulated in the 50 overs version of the Cup will end.

Guyana has endured much aggravation for not winning in recent times and they have worked hard on and off the field to set the record straight in 2007.

This could be their year.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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