Guyana's Magnifoicent six

Eye On Sports
Stabroek News
July 29, 2001

If ever Guyanese cricket fans disputed it, they now have solid proof that the saying "nothing good happens overnight", has sound meaning.

In the not too distant future, Guyana will host the West Indies Under-19 cricket tournament, which this country dominated in the latter half of the 1990s.

In winning the Nortel competition for six straight years, Guyana established a winning streak no territory is likely to surpass anytime soon.

Yet this country was criticised by fans inside and out of its boundaries for not transferring that success into widespread representation at the senior ranks of the West Indies team.

There were times like in 1989 when not one Guyanese played in the Test match at Bourda and it reached the stage where the packed Bourda crowd could not have identified with, even a local umpire.

But in four years since this country posted the last of its string of six title wins in 1997, Guyana has secured a record six players in the present XI opposing Zimbabwe in the current two-match Test series, of the historic tour of the Southern African country.

Before then, even in the height of Guyana's regional success in the 1960s, never was six of its players picked on the regional side until now, when this country's domination of the Nortel tournament is justifying that success.

Four of the six playing in the Harare Test and before that in Bulawayo, were members of the successful Nortel teams and a fifth, Mahendra Nagamootoo, was a part of the one-day team, bringing the number to seven Guyanese, chosen altogether for the Zimbabwe tour.

Such staggering statistics are excellent advertisement for Guyana's cricket, given the prolonged economic crises which has hurt sport to the core in the last two decades.

Guyana's domination in numbers of the Test side could not have happened overnight, though, given the difficulties young sportspeople face in transferring their success from the junior ranks to the highest levels, but it was worth the wait.

It is true that were it not for the spate of injuries which plagued Windies at the start of and during the tour, the Record Six could not have been achieved in Zimbabwe. But it is also a fact that all six have fully justified their selection with a string of valuable performances to date.

None moreso than Colin Stuart, considered the least accomplished of the six. The batting prowess of Carl Hooper, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are well known, likewise the bowling abilities of Reon King and Neil McGarrell. But Stuart, the odd one out of the six, picked only for the Test series, was a mere backup man for the other four pacemen, when he completed the long journey from Georgetown to Harare two weeks ago.

But he grabbed his opportunity with both hands and now could be easily considered the spearhead of the attack.

Captain Hooper was moved to state that Stuart is now 60 percent better compared to the beginning of his tour. His newfound ability to reverse swing the old ball, has broken threatening partnerships and is mainly responsible for his 10- wicket haul so far, in the two matches.

His commitment and desire for improvement should be an example for all youngsters to emulate.

McGarrell, another backup selectee has continued his impressive strike rate with the ball, which has landed him four-wicket innings hauls in all of his three career Test matches, including nine so far in Zimbabwe.

Chanderpaul knows he can bat, but left no room for doubt with his attractive 74 on Friday. likewise Sarwan whose 144 runs in two innings justifies his recall to the Test side.

Hooper's leadership by batting and captaincy example is a refreshingly pleasant change for the team's success, making him a key factor in Zimbabwe being reduced to also ran status, in the one-day series and Tests, so far.

By the time of publication today, West Indies should have completed a clean sweep of the 2-game series and their first series win overseas in six years.

It would have been a long time coming and Guyanese should be among the proudest West Indians, all because our Super Six rose to the occasion.