Harper backs Guyana to come good; mental strength is key

Georgetown, Guyana: Roger Harper believes the "mental toughness" of the Guyana cricketers will be critical when they journey to South Africa for their debut in the Airtel Champions League, next month. Harper, the globally-respected former West Indies player and coach, has been drafted in by the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) to work with the squad ahead of their departure next week.

Harper said: “I believe that mental toughness will be critical to Guyana doing well in South Africa. If they are willing to respond to challenges and not look for excuses this will make them adapt easier under pressure against some of the best players in the world. It will also be important how the batsmen adjust to the hard, bouncy pitches in South Africa and they have to continue showing team work in South Africa to be successful.”

Guyana earned the right to represent the regional at the Champions League when they won the West Indies Cricket Board’s Caribbean T20, beating Barbados in the final by one wicket with a ball to spare. Trinidad and Tobago represented the regional in last year's Champions League in India. They had a superb run and reached the final where they lost to New South Wales of Australia.

Guyana will be in Group B. They will play against Royal Challengers Bangalore on September 12 at SuperSport Park in Centurion, against Mumbai Indians on September 16 at Kingsmead in Durban; against Highveld Lions on September 19 at the Wanderers in Johannesburg; and return to the same venue two days later to face South Australia Redbacks.

Harper said: “It’s important in 20/20 cricket to be able to bowl yorkers consistently and that’s what we are working on at present. The mental aspect of bowling is also important and we will be dealing with that as we get closer to departure but right now we are concentrating on skill."

He added: “The fact that we won the Caribbean title and beat Trinidad and Tobago shows that the team has the talent to emulate Trinidad and Tobago’s performance in the Champions League and go on the world stage and do well. Once they play to their full potential in every department in every match they can go all the way.”

Guyana’s cricketers will be getting some high-quality opposition as they prepare for their trip to South Africa when they play two friendly matches against Trinidad and Tobago – one on Saturday and the other on Sunday – at the Guyana National Stadium, at Providence. Both matches will be played under lights at 8 pm (7 pm Jamaica Time).