Guyana Amazon Warriors chases elusive CPL title

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In this September 2, 2020 file photo, Shimron Hetmyer (R) of Guyana Amazon Warriors hits a four as Andre Fletcher (L) and Rahkeem Cornwall (C) of St Lucia Zouks watch during the Hero Caribbean Premier League match at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba. – by CPL T20

If there was a trophy for second place, Guyana Amazon Warriors would be one of the most celebrated T20 franchises in the world.

The top prize has eluded the Guyanese franchise five times in the Caribbean Premier League’s (CPL) T20 tournament’s eight-year history. The Amazon Warriors have yet to lift the trophy after finishing second in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Fans of Providence Stadium in Guyana are among the most passionate about CPL, as matches at the venue are normally packed to the brim.

Over the past few years, Amazon Warriors has maintained a core of gamers with mostly players from the West Indies coming up with a pinch of experience.

Shimron Hetmyer, West Indies T20 captain Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj have all been part of the setup for years. Pooran will be the team’s captain this year.

South African Imran Tahir has also remained committed to the franchise, but neither has team manager Omar Khan. Trinidadian Khan, a former manager from the West Indies, has been with the franchise since leaving CPL in 2013.

GREAT FILMING ATTACK

The Amazon Warriors have tasked their team of spinners over the years to capitalize on the friendly counters in Guyana. This year the whole tournament will be played in St Kitts and the spinners are hoping to get help from the Warner Park wicket.

Leg player Tahir, 42, is one of the most exciting cricketers in the world. No player celebrates a wicket like Tahir as he runs to the limit, forcing his teammates to make the trip to join in the celebrations.

Tahir was the franchise’s top pitcher and third-best overall in CPL 2020 with 15 wickets.

Tahir will guide the other spinners on the squad which includes Ashmead Nedd’s pair and West Indies T20 newcomer Kevin Sinclair.

Nedd is a left arm spinner and Sinclair’s off-spin will add variety to the spin attack. Sinclair can compete with Tahir when it comes to celebrating a wicket as he turns around in the air.

TALENTOUS STICK

Hetmyer and Pooran are the most talented young batsmen in the area and have already made a name for themselves in T20 franchise cricket across the world, especially the latter.

The pair paved the way for the Amazon Warriors last year as Hetmyer finished fourth and Pooran fifth in the scoring charts. Hetmyer scored 267 points at an average of 33.37 and Pooran scored 245 points at 27.22.

Hemraj and King didn’t shoot last year but delivered performances in previous tournaments. King was the tournament’s top scorer in the 2019 edition with 496 points with a best score of 132 not withdrawn. Hemraj was also strong in 2019 with 299 points at an average of 24.91.

ADDED EXPERIENCE, KEY PLAYERS LINKED UP

Amazon Warriors will welcome the return of Pakistani Shoaib Malik. Malik, 39, should keep a cool head in the proceedings as the veteran never seems to be overly emotional after a win or a loss.

Last year Malik was chosen to play for the Amazon Warriors but was called up for international assignments.

His compatriot Mohammad Hafeez was signed. Hafeez, 40, will increase the team’s chances with his stick. He is also a helpful spinner.

Quick pitcher Nial Smith and Afghan spinner Waqar Salamkhiel were also added, along with left arm spinner Gudakesh Motie.

Amazon Warriors has lost notable names.

Spinner and 2020 captain Chris Green is no longer with the franchise, with the Guyanese duo of Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford. The Amazon Warriors also lost veteran Ross Taylor of New Zealand.

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