2006 was indeed ‘year of millions' for Guyana 's cricket
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News
December 25, 2006

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President of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Chetram Singh aptly described 2006 as the ‘year of millions' for Guyana 's cricket.

How can anyone forget the disdainful slog-sweep for six by Narsingh Deonarine, off the penultimate ball of a nail-biting final, which gave Guyana the US$1 million top prize in the inaugural Stanford 20/20 competition?

Guyana's exhilarating triumph, watched live on television across the region, sent a nation troubled by ethnic tensions, escalating crime and high cost of living, into unbridled euphoria.

Tears of joy flowed freely from many of the all-conquering heroes as thousands of Guyanese present in the host country, Antigua , screamed their delight.

The outpouring of national unity and pride following the historic win was a wonderful tonic for Guyana 's 2007 World Cup preparations.

The victory against Trinidad and Tobago earned US$200,000 for the local board while the players, Manager and Coach duly earned sizeable paydays.

The GCB also received finances to refurbish grounds; purchase equipment; a bus; build a practice facility in the city and pay coaches across the county.

Guyana 's cricket development was given a timely financial fillip through the Stanford program.

The 20/20 fever was infectious and a full house at Blairmont saw Young Warriors beat Central Essequibo the Shapoorji Pallonji National 20/20 final to claim the $1 million first prize.

This was the most lucrative local competition ever and the sponsors, (the Indian Construction company contracted to build the Stadium at Providence ) hinted at staging a follow-up in 2007.

The tournament included the 12 first division teams in Berbice and Demerara and the eight in Essequibo and the inaugural match at Bourda between GCC and Malteenoes was covered live by NCN Radio and Television. The final was carried live on Radio.

Guyana ended the year as reigning KFC Cup regional one-day champions, Stanford 20/20 winners and regional under-19 four-day title holders.

The South Americans fell at the semi-final stage of the Carib Beer regional four-day tournament and their only failure was in the six-team CLICO regional under-15 series held over the Easter weekend in Antigua, when Guyana ended in the penultimate position.

The year began with Guyana playing ‘away' matches in the Carib Beer four-day first-class series in St. Maarten , Trinidad and Tobago , Jamaica and Grenada .

Ramnaresh Sarwan, appointed Guyana senior team captain for the first time in the final Carib Beer preliminary round against the Windward Islands in Grenada, scored two centuries and the most runs for Guyana (350 - Average 50), while Krishna Arjune, Travis Dowlin and Narsingh Deonarine also scored centuries as Guyana qualified for the semis against hosts Barbados.

Deonarine (340), Dowlin (327) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (324) were the other Guyanese to register over 300 runs in the competition while long serving leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo again finished among the top wicket-takers with 25 scalps.

Reon King (16), Deonarine (13) and Esuan Crandon (13) all captured important wickets for Guyana with Crandon dismissing Brian Lara in a seven-wicket haul against Trinidad and Tobago .

Without Chanderpaul and Sarwan , Guyana lost first innings points in the drawn Carib Beer semi-final as Sewnarine Chattergoon scored two fifties in the game and Arjune and McGarrell made half-centuries.

One of the two scheduled One-Day Internationals against Zimbabwe set for Bourda was washed out. In the next match, Chattergoon became the third player from Albion to play senior West Indies cricket.

A last-minute replacement for Barbados, Guyana again did a splendid job in hosting the TCL regional under-19 competition despite the threat of rain and the unease associated with national elections, in August.

Steven Jacobs, who earlier in the year made his first-class debut, was the leading all-rounder (235 runs and 23 wickets with his off-spin) and became the first victorious Guyanese skipper since Sarwan in 1997.

Guyana 's dominance was emphatic; winning both the League and Challenge titles after getting the better of Barbados in the challenge final at Bourda when Krishna Deosaran hammered a brilliant 115.

West Indies under-19 batsman Gajanand Singh scored the most runs including two centuries (417) while left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul was the leading wicket taker (31). Ryan Hercules copped the best fielder award as Guyana dominated the individual awards.

With Chanderpaul unavailable and Sarwan exhibiting astute leadership, Guyana whipped Montserrat, a full-strength Jamaica , Grenada and T&T to take the 20/20 top honours.

Although Dowlin scored two half-centuries including a courageous undefeated 89 in the final and won the US$100,000 man-of-the-match award and Nagamootoo captured a five-wicket haul against Grenada in the semi-final, Guyana 's success was achieved mainly due to wholehearted teamwork.

Crandon blasted a belligerent 31-ball 71 against Jamaica , Lennox Cush clobbered 49 in the crucial semi-final and Deonarine picked up important wickets before hitting the million-dollar six to climax the competition in authoritative fashion.

At the local level, Albion beat Malteenoes Sports Club in the national Baron Foods 50-overs competition before defeating South Essequibo in the Neal & Massy 40-overs tournament.

They were crowned team-of-the-year at the annual GCB awards ceremony. Young Warriors took the other national first division title (20/20).

Berbice won the Castrol under-15 two-day inter-county competition with Berbice being the runner-up while Demerara ended Berbice's eight-year reign in the GTM three-day under-19 inter-county competition. They achieved the ‘double' by also winning the one-day version of the tournament.

Essequibo continued to struggle at the inter-county level, being beaten by Demerara and Berbice in both competitions.

Essequibo were again winless in the El Dorado 50-overs senior inter-county competition despite being more competitive in both games. Demerara just scraped home off the final ball in their encounter at Bourda.

The defending champions Demerara, led by a fine 93 from an injured Deon Ferrier beat Berbice in the final at Albion.

The local season ended on a disappointing note when, because of a lack of funds, the inter-county four-day competition was reduced to a three-day affair and all matches were fixed for Georgetown.

The competition was marred by poor weather which washed out the entire final round, and the national selectors once again raised eyebrows by leaving out from their 27-man national training squad talented off-spinners Zaheer Mohamed and Andrew Williams along with national under-19 Norman Fredericks and experienced Andre Percival.

Several coaching programs were organised by the GCB while rain affected the Inter-Secondary school competition.

Despite the few negatives, mostly off the field, the GCB did a generally good job administering cricket locally and apart from the under-15s, our cricketers enjoyed a successful year.

Chattergoon, who eventually lost his place in the side, was the only Guyanese newcomer to West Indies senior cricket for the year while Deonarine and Crandon were selected on the West Indies sixes team which toured Hong Kong.

Deonarine, Chattergoon and Dowlin gained selection on the West Indies ‘A' team for the home series against Sri Lanka ‘A'.

Sarwan was named Guyana's senior cricketer of the year while Singh was adjudged the junior equivalent.

In December, Ferrier, Permaul, Royston Crandon and Jeremy Gordon were the newcomers on the national senior squad for the 2007 regional competition while the long-serving McGarrell was left out and Deonarine named as skipper for the three away matches.

Preparations for Guyana's hosting of the 2007 World Cup intensified during the last quarter of the year, with a high-powered ICC delegation visiting the country to carry out extensive assessments during its final venue tour.