CRICKET in Guyana is more than just a game. It has become something of an institution, one that impacts the cultural and recreational life of Guyanese in deeply profound ways, regardless of race, class or politics.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the current Caribbean Premier League (CPL) being played at the National Stadium, Providence. This is the second consecutive year both the qualifying matches and the final are being played at the Providence Stadium, thanks to the strong advocacy role of President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
In fact, Guyana will also be host to next year’s final and semi-finals, making it three consecutive years of hosting the final games.
According to President Ali, CPL is more than just cricket, but has the potential to catalyze regional growth and at the same time serve as a platform for the Region to market itself globally. In a diverse Region such as ours, cricket has always been a unifying force where people from all backgrounds come together to celebrate their shared passion.
This particular set of games in Guyana has not only been electrifying, but has brought to the fore the degree of national cohesion, with Guyanese fans throwing their overwhelming and unqualified support for the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
This speaks a lot of both the prominence and pre-eminence of President Ali on the regional stage, not only as it relates to economic matters but also in the sporting arena. It is a known fact that President Ali has a direct and close relationship with players and cricket administrators, both in Guyana and the Caribbean and has brought his enormous prestige and influence to the advantage of Guyana and the entire cricketing fraternity. The President and Executive of the Guyana Cricket Board in recognition of this fact had commended President Ali on his proactive role in bringing the finals to Guyana for three consecutive years.
It will be recalled that in 2022, President Ali made the historic announcement at the launch of the CPL 2022 Cricket Carnival. He made the point that the games presented a ‘Caribbean flavour’ of cricket and provided an opportunity for Guyana to showcase its full cultural repertoire.
The approach by government to ensure that the games were assigned to Guyana over a three-year period is nothing short of commendable and underscored the importance placed by the PPP/C administration on sports.
President Ali said he is optimistic that with innovative thinking, the CPL can be among the biggest event in the world of sports. The CPL must therefore be seen as more than just an event , but also as a platform for the Caribbean Region to market itself globally. In this regard, he urged every government in the Region to come on board and provide support to the tournament. According to President Ali, the CPL has the ability ‘to bring our people in the Region together, cementing us and fusing our culture.’
Dubbed ‘the biggest party in sport as cricket is played louder,’ CPL has re-ignited the passion and enthusiasm of cricket in a way never experienced before. The fan base has been greatly expanded to include women and children, which has added a new fervour and energy level to the game.
As the curtain of this season of the CPL games comes to an end, expectations are high that the Guyana Amazon Warriors, for the first time since the commencement of the game, will bring the coveted trophy home. Of course, the Trinidad and Tobago Knight Riders are not expected to go down without a fight. In this regard, it is important for everyone to manage expectations and allow the outcome of the game to take its course.
Both President Ali and Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo were visible in the stands during the games, interacting with players and fans and in the process providing much-needed moral support.
In the final analysis, however, it is the spirit of the games that really matters as we advance in the direction of regional integration and, in our own context, a ‘One Guyana’ vision as envisioned by President Ali.