By Akeem Greene
“I hope they [fans] come out in force and we can have an exciting atmosphere at the ground on Thursday night; playing here previously for the Warriors, it has been a really good atmosphere at the ground, so I’m hoping everyone can come out to the ground and watch us beat the Tallawahs!”
Those were the words of a confident Guyana Amazon Warriors Captain Martin Guptill just after the team arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on Sunday. The team returned to these shores to begin the series of home matches in the 2016 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The Warriors’ first test will be the Jamaica Tallawahs on July 7 from 19:00h, then they tackle the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots on July 9 from 12:00h.
The highly-anticipated clash against the Trinbago Knight Riders will bowl off at 19:00h on July 10, after which they play their final home match against the St Lucia Zouks on July 12 from 19:00h.
The two-time runners-up have produced some scintillating performances in their first two matches: first, clinching a thrilling four-wicket win over hosts Patriots last Thursday, then stunning defending champions Knight Riders on Saturday with a six-wicket win in the twin-island republic.
Speaking of those performances, Guptill said, “It’s a good feeling so far. We have played some very good cricket in the first two games. We know it’s a long tournament; we [are] going to have to be at the top of our game come Thursday to be able to get more wins under the belt and qualify for those finals.”
On the slow turning wicket at Providence, the opening batsman believes the batting will have to come good which will pave the way for the spinners to take charge.
“Batting will be key; it’s a very tough place to play cricket in Guyana, especially as a batsman, so if we can scrape together a good score, with the spinners that we got, we can restrict any team, but I think everyone is looking forward to playing in front of the crowds here.”
The New Zealander, who played for the Warriors in the first two editions, played for the Patriots last year, but is elated to return to the camp and be surrounded by some familiar faces.
He said, “It’s good fun being back here. I had a year off in St Kitts last year; it’s nice to be back with some familiar faces in the team and I’m enjoying captaining them; hopefully, we can carry on our good performances.”
Head Coach of the team, Roger Harper explained that the victories were extremely satisfying, and he was seeking to use the home matches as a chance to solidify their position on the points table.
Harper said, “I think everyone is happy with the results that we had over the last two games and the way the team has performed, but we know it’s only the first two games. There is still a lot of way to go in the competition, so we’re not getting carried away, we are coming home and looking to control our position at home.”
The Coach is of the firm belief that the team’s synergy, in addition to some senior players making telling contributions at the required time, is the reason behind their success.
“I think everyone is enjoying each other’s company: the team spirit is very high; as far as performances are concerned, it’s not about what the team looks like on paper, it’s about how the guys perform on the park and I think a lot of senior guys are putting their hands up and trying to lead from the front, so that is very good for the team,” Harper posited.
Quizzed on how much the surface at the National Stadium, Providence will boost their chances of continuing on the winning path, the former West Indies all-rounder explained that the experiences from the pre-tournament camp should aid the team, but it is about replicating those performances in the middle.
The Head Coach said, “We had a camp here, we [are] trying to make sure we get used to our conditions home here, but we still have to go out and do it on the park.”
Tickets for the matches are currently on sale at the new CPL office at 238 Camp and Quamina Streets, Georgetown (old TVG building).
The cost per ticket is the same as last year: $4000 for the Red and Green Stands, $3000 for the Orange Stand and $2000 for the Grass Mound.