Cricket in Guyana has for many years been centered around the historic Bourda Cricket Ground and other elements in the city area. However, some of the country’s best players have come from the rural areas of this large South American country, and have honed their skills on grounds miles away from the bustle of Georgetown.
The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) is well aware of this, and thanks to the US$280,000 investment into Guyana cricket by Antiguan financier Allen Stanford, the Board will be seeking to unearth more talent from these remote districts, who will follow in the footsteps of such players as Roy Fredericks, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharan and Ramnaresh Sarwan, all of whom were discovered in the country areas.
‘We will be moving into the rural areas in a big way and looking to develop and upgrade the facilities, some of which are in a really bad state,’ said Colin Stuart, the GCB’s Development Officer and a former Guyana and West Indies fast bowler. ‘It’s not totally a case of decentralization. We looked at the size of Guyana and we thought that it wouldn’t make much sense to use the money and put it into one county when Guyana has three counties and cricket is being played in all. Developing just one county would have put some of the other areas at a disadvantage, so we looked at the overall development project.’
Stuart says that one of the GCB’s goals is to have net facilities beyond the boundary, with the idea being to make the grounds and the adjoining facilities better, which will ultimately lead to the overall improvement of the game in the three counties (Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo).
Stuart has held discussions with Sir Vivian Richards, the Stanford 20/20 legend who has adopted Guyana, and says that Sir Viv’s input helped to bring about the proposed framework. The grounds being identified for immediate work are Skeldon, Albion and Bermine, and plans are being made to use the funds to maintain the supplies and upgrade the equipment and the training facilities.
‘More cricket is played in the country and there appears to be a greater passion for the game in those areas,’ Stuart said. ‘With this in mind, there appears to be a stronger possibility of players from these areas coming through to the top and we need to focus on these individuals.’
Malcolm Peters, a senior official in the GCB feels there is an urgent need for the facilities to be developed and that Stanford’s investment came along just in time.
‘We are very happy with the help we are receiving from Mr. Stanford,’ said Peters. ‘I am personally very happy and I know that everyone associated with cricket in Guyana is excited. We have been waiting for assistance and it has come, for which we are grateful.’
Guyana will face Montserrat on Friday, 21 July at the Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua.
ABOUT THE STANFORD 20/20 TOURNAMENT
The Stanford 20/20 Tournament is the brainchild of Antiguan financier and developer Allen Stanford. The tournament will take place in Summer 2006 and feature 19 Caribbean countries all vying for the top spot and the top prize: US$1 million.
The Stanford 20/20 is a single elimination knockout competition where the winning team will receive US$1 million and the second place finisher US$500,000. The cricket boards of the top two teams will receive US$200,000 and US$100,000, respectively, which must be used toward the development and improvement of the cricket facilities in those countries. In addition, the Man of the Match in every game will receive US$25,000 while the Man of the Match in the final game will receive US$100,000.
Stanford has also put together a US$28 million budget that will be invested in cricket in the region up to November 2006, at which time a Stanford Super Star team will be selected by the legends to play one match each against two world-class teams to be named. This will be a winner-takes-all competition with a US$5 million grand prize in each match.
In order to create an atmosphere for each of the nations to excel within the tournament and to ensure their long-term development, Stanford has included over US$5 million in support for them, financially and otherwise. Each country’s governing cricket body has received US$100,000 to be used for improvement of facilities, training and other development of the team and its members. An additional US$10,000 stipend per month will be given to support the team, and US$5,000 per month will be disbursed to be used strictly for maintenance and upkeep of each country’s facilities. Stanford will also be hiring a full time nutritionist and four professional athletic trainers to travel around the region regularly in order to train the teams and assist them wherever needed.
Stanford has enlisted the support of 14 cricket legends who will act as ambassadors for the tournament, advancing the philosophy behind the event, assisting with the promotion of the competition throughout the region and supporting the participating countries. These men are Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, Ian Bishop, Sir Everton Weekes, Desmond Haynes, Courtney Walsh, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner, Wes Hall, Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose and Andy Roberts.
The 19 countries which will be participating in the competition are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and the US Virgin Islands. Airfare (sponsored by Stanford-owned Caribbean Star Airlines and Caribbean Sun Airlines), team uniforms and equipment, expenses and accommodations will be provided for each team.