If sports were just about what's on paper, then the owners of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) might have considered just handing over the 2020 trophy to the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) given the host of talent they have retained for the tournament this year.
However, unfortunately, sport is about who turns up when the lights are switched on at the park and ready to play and not who is on the roster.
The defending champions Barbados Tridents showed just this when they assembled a group of eager young men with a plan to ambush the title from the TKR cupboard and this they did in 2019.
The TKR has retained 10 men from the Caribbean and specifically from T&T. Among them are some of the biggest names in the world of Twenty20 (T20) cricket. Leading the charge is Dwayne Bravo with his friend Kieron Pollard and the player who oozes mystery Sunil Narine.
“Over the last five years, TKR has built the franchise by consciously bringing back players from T&T and also developing local talent. We are delighted that all ten of our Caribbean players in the TKR squad for 2020 are from T&T,” said Venky Mysore, director of TKR.
Soon the franchise, as the other five, will announce the names of their international retentions, and TKR is expected to do well in this segment as well.
Three trophies since the advent of the tournament in 2013 show that the Knight Riders are the most successful. The final will be played at their home base, the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, where they took away two of those titles so the stars seem to be lining up in favour of the men in purple.
Tridents have again gone for the young enthusiastic talent, still writing their story and with strong management in place, including the West Indies coach Phil Simmons, they will be hunting down that title again.
Worries seem to befall the Jamaican Tallawahs with a well-publicised spat amongst their former star Chris Gayle, manager Jeff Miller and assistant coach Ramnaresh Sarwan. The "Universe Boss" Gayle has shifted to the St Lucia Zouks, who has been one of the most under-achieving franchises in the tournament.
Now with the shot in the arm administered by the King's XI Punjab ownership out of India, they will be hoping Darren Sammy can spark a revival as he did in West Indies cricket when he presented the region with two World T20 titles. Apart from Gayle, the others retained are the normal suspects so their international picks could be telling.
Tallawahs will go shopping when the draft is held because they have retained only four players in Andre Russell, rated Wisden's T20 player of the year as well as West Indies pacer Oshane Thomas.
Miller said: "The Tallawahs organisation will be seeking to rebuild in 2020. We are extremely excited to have Andre Russell back for another year.”
The Guyana Amazon Warriors, always the bridesmaid but never the bride, have stuck with the majority of their team from last season. Two of the most explosive batting talents in the region Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer lead the charge. The team continues to perform well under Pooran who spoke of the team environment being key.
This speaks a lot to the management style of former West Indies and Red Force manager Omar Khan who has done tremendous work in Guyana.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots have been working nicely behind the scenes building their unit brick by brick. They have nabbed the services of Denesh Ramdin touted the best "gloveman" in the region and have given the captaincy to the very capable and experienced Rayad Emrit.
The CPL is scheduled to take place between August 19 and September 26 but the tournament organisers are currently watching the current situation with COVID-19 closely and are liaising with medical advisors and governments. A decision on whether the tournament can proceed as planned, or at a different time, will be made as soon as possible.
CARIBBEAN PLAYERS RETAINED FOR CPL 2020
TKR: Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Jayden Seales, Amir Jangoo, Tion Webster, Akeal Hosein.
Tallawahs: Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Oshane Thomas, Chadwick Walton.
Zouks: Chris Gayle, Daren Sammy, Andre Fletcher, Kesrick Williams, Obed McCoy, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kimani Melius, Kavem Hodge.
Amazon Warriors: Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Kevin Sinclair, Odean Smith, Anthony Bramble.
Patriots: Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Denesh Ramdin, Rayad Emrit, Alzarri Joseph, Dominic Drakes.
Tridents: Jason Holder, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Hayden Walsh Jr, Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Raymon Reifer, Nyeem Young, Justin Greaves.