Warriors Fan perspective: ‘New chance to chase an old dream’

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By Cindya Khellawan

Eleven butter-smooth victories to their name, not a single defeat in the league stage and a comprehensive qualifier victory over the Barbados Tridents, the team they would eventually play in the Hero CPL 2019 final.

They were hot favourites heading into that final, and rightfully so. After all, it was the most dominant campaign by any team since the birth of CPL and perhaps, it placed itself in the history of best ranked global T20 campaigns.

Last season felt right; it felt like the year the Guyana Amazon Warriors would wrap up the unfinished business and finally lift the trophy. The expectation of Warriors’ fans was at its peak even though the team had choked in all of their four CPL final encounters before.

But October 12th, 2019, turned out to be the opposite of what every Warriors fan wished it would be.

It turned out to be the day the team registered its fifth defeat in a final. Nothing but a sad ending for every die-hard fan and more so, for the Shoaib Malik-led group who had played their hearts out every time they stepped onto the field.

The Guyana Amazon Warriors 2020 line-up

The eighth edition of the Caribbean Premier League is upon us and it’s a new chance for the boys to chase the same old dream. But, this year leaves us all wondering what it would feel like to sit behind screens watching star-studded teams vie for the title during the unfortunate time of a global pandemic.

Empty stands in the Biggest Party in Sport?

I know, I frown upon the thought of it too.

CPL season usually brings so much warmth and joy to us. Not only would you feel the sweet vibes while watching the action live at Providence, but there would also be hints of it in almost every space, whether it’s the Warriors’ theme song being played on the radio or the speed boats and public buses decorated with Warriors’ flags.

It’s a whole new world for the players and match officials too. More than ever before, the tournament requires a lot more discipline this year. Those coming from outside of Trinidad, the only host country for this year’s tournament, have been in mandatory quarantine in their hotel rooms for one week.

Social media posts by several players from various franchises have indicated that they have made much with whatever was available to them to ensure daily doses of exercise.

More than 60% of the players in the Warriors’ camp are familiar with each other from previous CPL editions. This should make the job easier.

Supporters of Guyana Amazon Warriors during the Hero Caribbean Premier League Play-Off match 32 between Guyana Amazon Warriors and Barbados Tridents at Guyana National Stadium on October 6, 2019 (Photo by Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Preparations and training have been limited and done in a bio-secure environment for obvious reasons.

As such, it would be interesting to see the quality of cricket that emerges from the tournament under these circumstances. The Warriors’ are without Shoaib Malik this year; no doubt his captaincy would be missed given last year’s historic run.

Over the years the Amazon Warriors have been a team that, at times, did not look the best on paper, but they’ve always managed to make into the top four.

In fact, the Warriors have placed in the top two positions for six of the seven editions thus far, except for 2017 when they placed fourth. They are also the only team in CPL history so far to have bagged 50 wins.

Chris Green and Shoaib Malik of Guyana Amazon Warriors celebrate the dismissal of Javelle Glen of Jamaica Tallawahs during match 15 of the Hero Caribbean Premier League between Jamaica Tallawahs and Guyana Amazon Warriors at Sabina Park on September 18, 2019 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Last minute changes to five of the squads have caused them all to look a little more equal on paper, in my opinion. The Warriors have had just one change with Qais Ahmad missing out and Trinidad and Tobago spinner, Kissoondath Magram, taking his place.

Ross Taylor and Imran Tahir are the two most senior guys in this young and vibrant Warriors’ line-up.

Last season we saw Johan Botha, Head Coach of the Guyana Amazon Warriors, get emotional when Alex Jordon asked him his thoughts on Brandon King’s performance. It would be a joy to see the ‘King’ return in fine form this season.

Much excitement also centers around rising stars, Ashmead Nedd and Kevin Sinclair, who were both outstanding for the West Indies Emerging Team in the Super50 Cup last year. Former Under-19 captain of Afghanistan Naveen-ul-Haq, is one of the fresh foreign faces to the side.

Last November, in a T20 series decider between Afghanistan and West Indies, he bagged three vital wickets which helped to steer his side to victory. There is a whole lot to look forward to from these guys, along with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Chandrapaul Hemraj and others.

Now, the burning question yet again.

Can the Warriors get over the line this year and break the title jinx?

I know the passion is there. I mean, we’ve all seen it over the years.

Perhaps a little more mental strength and confidence needed if they were to play yet another final?

Let’s see how things unfold over the next few weeks in the home of Carnival.

Warriors Nation, standby.

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