By Brandon Corlette
The Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) certainly have a winning squad for the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Filled with young gifted players, the squad has eight Guyanese nationals and some experienced overseas and Regional players, and they are all under the guidance of Head Coach Johan Botha.
The average age of the GAW players in the squad is 25. Shadab Khan and Keagan Simmons are the youngest members at 20 years old, while Shoaib Malik is the oldest at 37 years old. He leads the Warriors, being the most experienced player, although he now plays only in the T20 format for his native Pakistan.
With 345 T20I matches to his name, the calm and cool Malik is an active member of the Pakistan T20I team. A right-handed batsman, Malik has been in good form during the Global T20 Canada, and would be aiming to transition that form in the CPL.
The GAW batting department looks an exciting one, with Chandrapaul Hemraj and the elegant Brandon King tipped to open the batting. GAW’s most successful batsman in 2018, the 22-year-old Shimron Hetmyer, together with its marquee player, 23-year-old Nicholas Pooran, and the Captain Shoaib Malik will comprise the top five batsmen. The likes of 20-year-old Keagan Simmons and 28-year-old Anthony Bramble may also fancy their chances at the top of the batting order.
Warriors are not short of power hitters. The 21-year- old Guyanese Sherfane Rutherford has proven himself in that regard, and is likely to play the role of pinch hitter.
The Warriors’ spin-bowling department looks up to the task, with 25-year-old Chris Green and 20-year-old Shadab Khan offering reliable service therein. In spin-friendly conditions, GAW may opt for an extra spinner in Veerasammy Permaul.
The seam bowling department will be led by the experienced Ben Laughlin, while the Guyanese pace duo of Romario Shepherd and Keemo Paul will play as starters in the fast-bowling department.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) emerging players Odean Smith and Clinton Pestano are the extra seam bowling options.
The big names in the GAW squad and the Head Coach Botha have spoken about the impressive youths in the team. The likes of fearless duo Rutherford and Hetmyer have impressed the globe in the 2018 edition of the CPL, and in this 2019 edition will be eager to play a huge role in the team’s success.
Pakistan will play Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series from October 5, and leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who has been active for Pakistan in all three formats of the game, may have to report for duty for his country in the ODI and T20I matches. With the ODIs against Sri Lanka commencing on September 27, camps will be held prior; and Khan may be replaced in the GAW by his countryman Imran Tahir, who was the leading GAW bowler in 2018 with 16 wickets under his belt.
The GAW will play their first match in CPL 2019 against the St Lucia Zouks on Thursday September 5th at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.