West Indies cricket January 19, 2013

The Caribbean Ashes

Roger Sawh
There's one rivalry within the Caribbean nexus that is big and is only getting bigger - Guyana v Trinidad (or Trinidad v Guyana, depending on your allegiances)
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One of the most important aspects of international cricket is the fact that countries, as opposed to franchises, go head to head on such a regular basis. As opposed to the Yankees v Red Sox, Celtics v Lakers or Barcelona v Real Madrid, the national representation structure of cricket (notwithstanding the rapidly expanding world of franchise cricket in T20s) lends regular matches and series the feeling of a quasi-war. While outward animosity isn't that pronounced, there are some rivalries that are so spirited and historically significant that their manifestation in cricket is quite fierce - India and Pakistan are probably the most passionate, Australia and England might be the oldest, and anyone and England (the colonial masters) might be the most historically entrenched. On a slightly smaller scale, there's one rivalry within the Caribbean nexus that is big and is only getting bigger - Guyana v Trinidad (or Trinidad v Guyana, depending on your allegiances).

This rivalry does not have military connections, but is instead spurred on by a shared history and a similar socio-cultural and economic reality. In a nutshell, it's like two siblings fighting - they're similar in so many ways, but their differences invoke vehement clashes. On the face of things, Trinidad and Guyana have much alike when compared with the other members of the West Indies - they're the only two countries to have large Indo-ancestral roots alongside Afro-ancestral ones, which has led to the creation of cultures that appreciate curries as much as calypso. The noticeable presence of Hinduism and Islam existing alongside Christianity, and the theatre of Shah Rukh Khan being as influential as that of Brad Pitt make Trinidadian and Guyanese societies quite analogous.

There are, though, small differences in the cultures that act as springboards for perceived difference - Guyanese say 'chicken curry' while Trinis say 'curry chicken', Trinis like to 'fete' while Guyanese like to 'sport' (they both mean 'party' for the uninitiated) … and so the long but quite unimportant list goes on. Besides linguistic differences, there are obvious claims over who does things better, who has had more success, or even who is the smarter one - as I said, a real sibling rivalry!

On the economic front, Trinidad has done quite well for itself thanks mainly to its oil-based economy, while Guyana is still working on finding its economic footing (though aspirations of oil shine bright as a potential way to progress). This ties in to the politics of the two countries, which have had undeniable racial links at one level or another (and have always served as an ugly backdrop to efforts for national unity). Both countries are working their internal differences out, but as young nations, there are definite growing pains.

On the cricketing front, Trinidad has birthed the genius Brian Lara while Guyana may claim to have had more 'big names' of the West Indies' past, like Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, and Rohan Kanhai. In today's West Indies team, Trinidad has provided some of the brightest stars, while Guyana can claim the stalwarts. In general, Trinidadians and Guyanese have played cricket in similar ways also - spin based bowling attacks (think Sonny Ramadhin, Dinanath Ramnarine and Samuel Badree against Lance Gibbs, Mahendra Nagamootoo and Devendra Bishoo) that complement wristy and stylish batsmen (like Larry Gomes, Daren Ganga and Darren Bravo versus Alvin Kallicharran, Carl Hooper and Ramnaresh Sarwan).

To take a small slice of recent history, Guyana and Trinidad have yet another commonality - they are the only two countries to have won the West Indies' domestic T20 tournament since its inception under Allen Stanford. That reality has provided the latest bit of spice in this bilateral bacchannal, which grew to a fever pitch yet again a few nights ago in the round-robin stage of the 2013 tournament in Port of Spain. Both teams were undefeated going into the game, and Guyanese and Trinidadians alike were confident that their teams would win. They both relied heavily on spin, and there was a shared knowledge that they are each other's biggest test. While Trinidad emerged easy victors, the anticipation of another possible face-off in the tournament final keeps the flames of competition burning bright.

The rivalry will continue far beyond 2013, from the cricket field to the kitchen to the DJ booth, and many other places. While the chasm could be so much wider (there are no fundamental religious, racial or historical differences to fuel any hatred), we simply fight because we're alike. Claims of superiority will continue to be made, evidence will be cited, teasing will be done, and banter will continue, but despite all of this, Trinis and Guyanese will both be right - like siblings, they are both equally special.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Angela SLU on January 30, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    Great descriptive article on the relations between Trinidad and Guyana. It is short and sweet as well.

  • Roger Sawh on January 23, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    Thanks for the many kind comments everyone. Cricket G, your grammatical observation is quite correct, though I'd suggest that the mistake I made is quite common (and is thus widely understood). Nevertheless, you're right. I think it's important to mention that I did not intend this to be a consideration of all of the greats from Trinidad and Guyana over the years, as the likes of Shiv (who happens to be my favorite cricketer), Colin Croft, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Ian Bishop, and many others would have certainly made the list. The names I mentioned were simply some of the first that came to mind when elaborating my point. Additionally, you're perfectly correct in noting that this is a cursory look at the Trini-Guyanese dynamic - the article was composed with cricket as the focus, and I sought to simply set the scene of the rivalry. I would suggest that a full analysis of the relationship between Guyana and Trinidad would be a wonderful topic for a book, far beyond Cricinfo's scope!

  • meister on January 23, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    I have to admit to the Guyana crew ... chasing down and beating Jamaica after Gayle went crazy was deserving of the trophy ... that was a great T20 score in any competition for any team world-wide, so getting it was a fantastic effort. But ... I wouldn't go so far as to say Trinidad couldn't also chase it down. On paper, we have the batting to do it, not every day, but then what team can say that? What I will say is this ... I don't think Gayle would have roughed up our bowling to that degree. Beaton was excellent, BTW, looking forward to seeing him in maroon. I also love and respect Chanders like a good chicken curry :-).

  • Cricket G on January 22, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    The article is a cursory, skims the surface of the matter and gives just a little glimpse of Trini/ Guyana rivalry. How can an article like this omit Chanderpaul along with other greats. But in a nutshell it expresses the correct view that we love each other and that's why we are so competitive.

    Roger, a note ' working out their internal differences" and not "working their internal differences out."

  • Ujjwal Ingolikar on January 22, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    Good to see an article on the Caribbean culture and its cricket. As a neutral, one is always interested to know more about their cricket, their celebrations, their life which is so enriched by many factors.

  • Geronimo on January 21, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Trinis say "Boy" Guyanese say "Man",The Trinis can now ask "Whose's the Man?

  • windies_superstar69 on January 21, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    I am impressed by this article and it is very true about the cultures of these countries. I am a proud guyanese but I'm very disappointed with the final result...can't believe trinidad beat us but we'll be back in the 4 day tournament..I am entirely disgusted with the commentary of this t20 though..the commentators have been so biased against guyana..especially fazeer mohamed...they always bad mouth guyanese just because they know we're a big threat..its disappointing that guyana didn't have a commentator because they all had their filthy statements to say about guyana...anyways trinidad have won but guyana will be back!!!!!!

  • David Mohamad on January 21, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    NICE....Well done....

  • Devon Pinder on January 21, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    well written Roger.....the fact that only Guyana & TT have tasted T20 success @ the regional level makes their cricket matches, like roger said, a mini-ashes at least in T20. Although a bit mismatched for the past 2 years Guyana & T&T are the best in the format in the region & Guyana seems to be the only team that can keep the powerhouse of T&T in check. Here's to hoping the franchise system from 2014 keeps a fair amount of the national pride we all take for granted now in domestic T20 cricket.

  • Balbir Bahadursingh on January 21, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Well written. Let the game continue. Let the competition be high. And as Brian Lara put it "Lets Entertain"

  • Angela SLU on January 30, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    Great descriptive article on the relations between Trinidad and Guyana. It is short and sweet as well.

  • Roger Sawh on January 23, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    Thanks for the many kind comments everyone. Cricket G, your grammatical observation is quite correct, though I'd suggest that the mistake I made is quite common (and is thus widely understood). Nevertheless, you're right. I think it's important to mention that I did not intend this to be a consideration of all of the greats from Trinidad and Guyana over the years, as the likes of Shiv (who happens to be my favorite cricketer), Colin Croft, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Ian Bishop, and many others would have certainly made the list. The names I mentioned were simply some of the first that came to mind when elaborating my point. Additionally, you're perfectly correct in noting that this is a cursory look at the Trini-Guyanese dynamic - the article was composed with cricket as the focus, and I sought to simply set the scene of the rivalry. I would suggest that a full analysis of the relationship between Guyana and Trinidad would be a wonderful topic for a book, far beyond Cricinfo's scope!

  • meister on January 23, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    I have to admit to the Guyana crew ... chasing down and beating Jamaica after Gayle went crazy was deserving of the trophy ... that was a great T20 score in any competition for any team world-wide, so getting it was a fantastic effort. But ... I wouldn't go so far as to say Trinidad couldn't also chase it down. On paper, we have the batting to do it, not every day, but then what team can say that? What I will say is this ... I don't think Gayle would have roughed up our bowling to that degree. Beaton was excellent, BTW, looking forward to seeing him in maroon. I also love and respect Chanders like a good chicken curry :-).

  • Cricket G on January 22, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    The article is a cursory, skims the surface of the matter and gives just a little glimpse of Trini/ Guyana rivalry. How can an article like this omit Chanderpaul along with other greats. But in a nutshell it expresses the correct view that we love each other and that's why we are so competitive.

    Roger, a note ' working out their internal differences" and not "working their internal differences out."

  • Ujjwal Ingolikar on January 22, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    Good to see an article on the Caribbean culture and its cricket. As a neutral, one is always interested to know more about their cricket, their celebrations, their life which is so enriched by many factors.

  • Geronimo on January 21, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Trinis say "Boy" Guyanese say "Man",The Trinis can now ask "Whose's the Man?

  • windies_superstar69 on January 21, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    I am impressed by this article and it is very true about the cultures of these countries. I am a proud guyanese but I'm very disappointed with the final result...can't believe trinidad beat us but we'll be back in the 4 day tournament..I am entirely disgusted with the commentary of this t20 though..the commentators have been so biased against guyana..especially fazeer mohamed...they always bad mouth guyanese just because they know we're a big threat..its disappointing that guyana didn't have a commentator because they all had their filthy statements to say about guyana...anyways trinidad have won but guyana will be back!!!!!!

  • David Mohamad on January 21, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    NICE....Well done....

  • Devon Pinder on January 21, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    well written Roger.....the fact that only Guyana & TT have tasted T20 success @ the regional level makes their cricket matches, like roger said, a mini-ashes at least in T20. Although a bit mismatched for the past 2 years Guyana & T&T are the best in the format in the region & Guyana seems to be the only team that can keep the powerhouse of T&T in check. Here's to hoping the franchise system from 2014 keeps a fair amount of the national pride we all take for granted now in domestic T20 cricket.

  • Balbir Bahadursingh on January 21, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    Well written. Let the game continue. Let the competition be high. And as Brian Lara put it "Lets Entertain"

  • Derek on January 21, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Excellent and completely unbaised summary and comparison of both nations. Thank you for the informative and entertaining piece

  • Sanjeeb Kumar on January 21, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    The match this morning did not quite live up to expectations.However May the teams do well in other regional competitions and We look forward to T&T coming to India.

  • raj mathura on January 20, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    gayana can bring it home if sarwan bat on tonight good luck to both teams

  • Rowan Bharath on January 20, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Very accurate commentary of these two nations. Does well for Caribbean unity

  • Sean Kangal on January 20, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    wonderful - if only I cud write like this!

  • Selwyn Bharath on January 20, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    Love this article.Sibling rivalry indeed.This article has its pulse on the relationship between the two countries

  • Chris on January 20, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Excellent article, well written, very factual....well done Roger

  • Lionel on January 20, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    Fantastic article ! It sums up in a nutshell our relationship with our island neighbors to the north east.

  • Red force on January 20, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Similar? Who has the most ms universe and ms world titles will win! Go T&T!

  • crickprick on January 20, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Absolutely a gem of an article. I want to add to ram's list above some very fond names in the Guyana/Trinidad lineup of the past: Ian Bishop, Gus Logie, Ranjie Nanan, Anthony Gray, David Williams Andrew Lyght, Andrew Jackman, Rabindranauht Seeram, Timur Mohamed, Faoud Bacchus-names that come to mind. It is my believe that these guys were all 'Test' materials but the WI was too talented then and that they all surpass current standards... Congratulations ot the winner tonight and 'come stronger next time around' to the runner-up.

  • Cticketer 21 on January 20, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Great article! Very interesting rivalry betwwen Guyana and Trinidad in T20. In the other format (4 day) it is Barbados and Trinidad. What did Sarwan do last night? As a West Indian batsman that was careless. Last ball of the over then some spin and medium pace coming this was his chance, especially it no Chanderpaul. He will have to dig very deep against Trinidad. Great game Guyana. All the best Trinidad, I am with you!

  • rano on January 20, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Well written,But I Prefer CHRIS GALE & Jamaica to clash with T.T

  • Anonymous on January 20, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    very nice well said

  • Sanjeeb Kumar on January 20, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Nice article indeed.The Windies cricket radio commentator Andrew Mason waxes eloquent about Guyana with its trees, mountains, river and savanna.This morning( to us in India) they managed to keep their date for tomorrow's final with Trinidad & Tobago.Even missing Chanderpaul and having hit by Gayle force, they fought and have reached the finals.

  • Justin on January 20, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    I'm a trini and Trinidad vs Barbados is more intense, due to economic wars and cricket history..The matches vs Guyana is now gaining some intensity recently cause they have a nag for beating Trinidad in 20/20 finals. Even Trinidad vs Jamaica is like a mini ashes as well! Soca vs Reggae

  • Kenny on January 20, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    Love the article

  • Reagan Reece on January 20, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    this is a beautifully written and very accurate article. It absolutely made my day. well done respect and all kudos to you Mr Roger Sawh

  • Rajiv Singh on January 20, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    Good Article Mr Sawh. Guyana and Trinidad are the most alike siblings in the West Indies Family. Whether its chicken curry or curry chicken, it`s still the same thing. Tomorrow night we fight/play among ourselves, but in the end we play together for the same Family. The rivalry is good for West Indies cricket, as it brings out the best in all the players. Let`s hope we have an exhilarating final tomorrow night, and our Guyanese Boys bring it home.

  • Anonymous on January 20, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Great article! Captures the essence of the rivalary

  • RAVI TEJA MANDAPAKA on January 20, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    Rivalries indulged with sportive spirits are real treasures !

  • Joe Jaglall on January 19, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    Well said Roger, Your analysis are always true yet riviting. Thanks for yet another "sweet" piece of writing.

  • Haresh Sukhraj on January 19, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    beautiful written article.

  • wiky on January 19, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    waow. Informative n new to me.

  • simeon on January 19, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    There may be more battles but not in t20 cricket since the 2013 edition is actually the last one in this format

  • Neil on January 19, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    I think the rivalry between Barbados and Trinidad has much more intensity

  • ram on January 19, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    nice article but missing some great names - Basil BUTCHER, JOE SOLOMON AND Shiv Chanderpaul

  • kahuna on January 19, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    Great article!

  • Jude on January 19, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    Very well written article, "sibling rivalry" is an appropriate description of what exists between TT & Guyana.

  • Rod Michael on January 19, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    BRILIANT.... I'm proud of u champ..

  • JanSingh on January 19, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Nicely written synopsis of the reality existent in two countries.From soca, chutney soca to cricket, this rivalary is great.Last week Trini locked horns with Guyana in T20.Today guyanese compete in chutney soca monarch with Trini artists.Your article clearly gives the beautiful socio-cultural, ethno religious and sporting link that strongly binds both afro and indo ancestral Trinis and Guyanese.I liked the piece good on you.Wish Trini and Guyana will be in final.

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  • JanSingh on January 19, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Nicely written synopsis of the reality existent in two countries.From soca, chutney soca to cricket, this rivalary is great.Last week Trini locked horns with Guyana in T20.Today guyanese compete in chutney soca monarch with Trini artists.Your article clearly gives the beautiful socio-cultural, ethno religious and sporting link that strongly binds both afro and indo ancestral Trinis and Guyanese.I liked the piece good on you.Wish Trini and Guyana will be in final.

  • Rod Michael on January 19, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    BRILIANT.... I'm proud of u champ..

  • Jude on January 19, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    Very well written article, "sibling rivalry" is an appropriate description of what exists between TT & Guyana.

  • kahuna on January 19, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    Great article!

  • ram on January 19, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    nice article but missing some great names - Basil BUTCHER, JOE SOLOMON AND Shiv Chanderpaul

  • Neil on January 19, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    I think the rivalry between Barbados and Trinidad has much more intensity

  • simeon on January 19, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    There may be more battles but not in t20 cricket since the 2013 edition is actually the last one in this format

  • wiky on January 19, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    waow. Informative n new to me.

  • Haresh Sukhraj on January 19, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    beautiful written article.

  • Joe Jaglall on January 19, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    Well said Roger, Your analysis are always true yet riviting. Thanks for yet another "sweet" piece of writing.