By Ravi Madholall in Toronto
Former Guyana first-class wicketkeeper Azib Ali Hanif is very confident and simultaneously optimistic Guyana Jaguars can do the trick too in the abbreviated version in the current Cricket West Indies Super50 Festival cricket tournament in Antigua and Barbuda.
After four matches Guyana Jaguars rallying along nicely with three consecutive victories before they were beaten by Jamaica Scorpions by 46 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis Method on Thursday in a day/night encounter in Group B.
Hanif believes the confidence the guys have will be enough to take them through to the semi-final segment and then ultimately hoisting the prestigious trophy which has eluded them for the past 13 years.
The Berbician, Hanif, who took up residence approximately 14 years ago in Canada, commented that Guyana Jaguars played exceptionally well in the recently concluded Professional Cricket League four-day tournament to retain the championships for four years in succession and that is invariably sparking the confidence and enthusiasm for his country-men to emerge victorious on February 24 (final).
“I [am] definitely confident that Guyana Jaguars will win the cup this year; they have played in a number of finals over the years recently but I have a great feeling they could come out as the winners on this occasion,” Hanif mentioned.
Since the introduction of the Professional League, with the inclusion of Franchise players, Guyana Jaguars have been phenomenally dominant under the captaincy of discarded test batsman Leon Johnson.
The elegant left-handed Johnson is once again at the helm in Antigua. Hanif stated that not only good leadership was required at the longer format but stating that the transforming captaincy in the limited-over version is also important.
Obviously, “great job by Johnson over the four years and I truly believe he is eager to bring home the trophy for the people of Guyana in 50-over competition as well; the team is well-balanced and formidable in every department and the combination is good enough to do the job,” Hanif, who appeared in 11 first-class matches for his native-country, related.
Guyana Jaguars opened their campaign auspiciously humbling English County team Kent by 35 runs before trounced USA by eight wickets and then tamed Leeward Islands Hurricanes by 16 runs.
Hanif, who still plays professionally in Canada representing Hawaiian Arctic Cricket Club in the annual Scarborough Cricket Association, also plied his trade for Vikings Cricket Club which is affiliated to the Toronto and District Cricket Association Elite limited-over competition.
He is reckoning despite the fact Guyana have not been able to win the championships since 2005, that should not be a discouragement rather than the bunch of guys vying to erase that drought.
Meanwhile, Guyana Jaguars are still leading the points table with 13 while Kent is sharply behind on 12 points. The two top teams from this Group will advance to semis against an opponent from Group A which being played in Barbados, the defending champions’ nation.