The party begins!
Caribbean Premier League set to blast off
The biggest party in cricket starts in about 48 hours and the players at every level of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) are predicting a showpiece like none other seen in the Caribbean before.
In the midst of Barbados’ 50th year of Independence celebrations, owner of the Barbados Tridents franchise, Dr Vijay Mallya, said the team was focused on winning the competition.
“Fans will witness an unparalleled experience never seen before in the Caribbean. They’ll have a chance to see their team in new kit and enjoy an improved stadium experience which will draw on their passion for the game. On the field, our team is focused on winning.
“On the field we intend to win by playing good cricket. Our squad features several world-class players who can change any game. Working together as a unit is important for our team’s success,” Mallya said.
He expressed his delight with some of the acquisitions for CPLT20 and singled out South African AB de Villiers and Kiwi Brendon McCullum as two who should generate significant interest.
“In T20 cricket, any player can be a match winner on his given day. However, with the likes of AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard and others we feel the Tridents will be a hard team to beat,” Mallya said.
He added: “I’m looking forward to seeing what Brendon McCullum of the Trinbago Knight Riders can do in Caribbean conditions. He is another exciting world-class player who, on his day, can take the game over with the bat and in the field.”
The Indian businessman said the combination of the spirit of the fans, the atmosphere and Caribbean culture fusing with high-paced action-packed cricket was a formula that was hard not to be exciting.
Coach of the Guyana Amazon Warriors and former West Indies off-spinner Roger Harper said his squad had been in a one-week camp from June 19 and added the team had a number of players who would grab fans’ attention during the next few weeks.
“Our international players, namely captain Martin Guptill, Dwayne Smith, Chris Lynn, Sohail Tanvir along with young Adam Zampa, will of course grab a lot of attention and we expect them to lead from the front. We also have a number of regional and local players that will have a great impact on the CPL this year; players like Rayad Emrit, Christopher Barnwell and Veerasammy Permaul, just to name a few. However, the strength and performance of our squad as a whole is what will make us successful,” Harper declared.
Harper’s counterpart with the Jamaica Tallawahs, Paul Nixon, noted that the Jamaica franchise’s plans for the tournament were coming together as the start of the competition grew closer.
“Our plans are coming together well for this year’s CPL. The management group touched base several weeks ago discussing plans and our daily calendar through the tournament. The schedule includes the cricket sessions, leadership group chats, rest sessions, gym sessions from physiotherapy screening to rest and recovery sessions and managing the young bowlers’ workloads. Looking after our very important sponsors as well, it is crucial to help the Tallawahs grow our brand and our players are committed to do this. We are confident and happy with the direction we are heading at this early stage,” Nixon asserted.
The former England international spoke highly of some of the new names in the Tallawahs and praised the mix of players acquired.
“All [the players] have a match-winning ability but to say a couple of names are Rovman Powell, a very hard-hitting batsman and Jon-Russ Jaggesar, who is a very skilled off-spinner who can spin it both ways and with great accuracy. Mohammad Khan and the team picked so many talented guys with strong mental belief. Our squad has age and experience combined with the vibrancy and energy of youth,” Nixon said.
Head coach of the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Eric Simons, spoke of the importance of a pre-tournament camp that helped his team to gel. He said it was difficult to single out impact players since he believed his team had so many.
“We had a camp last week in St Kitts where all squad members who are not involved in other series or tournaments around the world got together and started working towards preparing for the tournament. It was a good time to get to know each other as people and cricketers and bond as a unit. In tournaments such as the CPL it is important to have a strong team culture and focus on working towards the team success,” he said.
Simons was excited about the young players in the line-up, along with the likes of Lendl Simmons, Samuel Badree, Faf du Plessis and Carlos Braithwaite.
“Young cricketers such as Evin Lewis and Alzarri Joseph who had such a successful ICC U19 Cricket World Cup campaign are others to watch and of course there is great excitement about Kieran Powell who is back in the game. The truth is the tournament will throw up surprises and it is tough to predict who the surprise will be, but every one of the Patriots squad is capable of being a match winner,” he said.
St Lucia Zouks will have the likes of Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, David Miller and Morne Morkel in their line-up, while the Trinbago Knight Riders possess one of the strongest teams on paper with the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Hashim Amla, Umar Akmal and Colin Munro.
The tournament starts Wednesday with the Trinbago Knight Riders taking on the St Lucia Zouks at the Queen’s Park Oval.