The international press covering cricket in Guyana
Guyana — Chander Paul and SRK
Guyana Chronicle
April 8, 2007

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BACKYARD cricket, Guyana Style. (Reuters photo)

(Shonali Nagrani - Daily News and Analysis of Mumbai, India - writes this column straight from the Caribbean islands where the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 is being held.)

If I had to define Guyana in one line it would be the land of virgin beauty, flirtatious men and cricket loving women.
One day, I decided to take a trip into the Amazon rainforest. It is here that I sat, with my legs dangling from the edge of a 740 ft high cliff — with the world’s tallest single waterfall on my right and the endless jungle on my left. As I looked up, barely two-feet away from me, I saw a rainbow emerge. And that’s when I told myself, life is such a rainbow.

My adventures continued with speed boating into the brown muddy Essequibo River, home to Guyana’s richest gold mines. On my journey up the river, with untouched rainforests on either side, we saw rapids ahead. As they approached, I shut my eyes and prayed, while my boat driver laughed away and asked me to hold on tight. And just as I thought the boat might capsize, I nervously opened my eyes, only to see the boat comfortably zipping over the rapids. The story doesn’t end—the ride back home was three-hours long, in pitch darkness, with the ominous sound of animals throughout, ending the adventure ride of a lifetime…in one piece.

Sixty per cent of Guyana’s population is of Indian origin, including the President! So it’s no wonder that names like Basmati Prashad and Balram Hanuman are the norm, there’s an Indian restaurant at every corner, chole batura is the staple food, Bollywood music blares from every salon, and Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan are household favourites.

If you thought, we in India loved cricket, wait till you meet the Guyanese. Chander Paul and Sarwan are worshipped like heroes, with songs for nearly every player. I happened to take a walk on a lazy Sunday, only to find their entire population—men, women and children including the physically challenged, out in the National Park with bat, ball and wickets.

Tempted by the cricket fervour, I just had to jump in!

(Shonali is the roving reporter on MAX, the official broadcaster of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.)