The 2020 Hero CPL tournament sadly came to an end last Thursday with an entertaining final between the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) and the St Lucia Zouks (SLZ). At one time, the game seemed to be heading in favour of the Zouks, but the TKR kept plugging away and wearing their opposition down until finally, they succumbed by 8 wickets.
Before we discuss the teams and their performances, let me first comment on how well the tournament was organised. Those in authority must be complimented for taking the bold step to allow the tournament to be played here in T&T. The local organising committee led by the Sports Company which included the Ministry of Health officials, Customs, Defense Force personnel and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service did a fine job under difficult and unprecedented circumstances. We now have an excellent blueprint to organise other world-class events here and those in charge should not be afraid to promote sports tourism in our beloved T&T. We have the venues; we have the capability to march forward and perhaps most importantly, we are desperate in our present economic circumstances to attract direct foreign investment. Undoubtedly, sport can be the catalyst for achieving this.
With respect to the cricket itself, we all expected TKR to at least reach the final and they did not disappoint. To put it mildly, they were terrific. They exhibited everything one would have wanted from a team – professionalism, commitment, team spirit, dedication, heart and the visible desire to win. They planned each and every game which was clearly evident in their approach. To win 12 games on the bounce does not just happen overnight but takes serious skill and determination. Some people predicted during the tournament that they must have at least one bad game and they did - against the Barbados Tridents (BT). But, they pulled through because of a brutal innings by skipper Kieron Pollard. It was a cumulative effort by the TKR, and although the batting, in the end, was dominated by Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo, they still won the final without Colin Munro and Sunil Narine. Ali Khan missed a few games and Dwayne Bravo did not bowl in the final, but they came away victorious. It was well-planned and conceived.
The runners up, SLZ, was the surprise package. They did it without any superstars. Roston Chase showed how much he has improved as a cricketer and put to bed the theory that he is not a T20 player. He played intelligent cricket with both bat and ball and he performed remarkably well for the SLZ. Scott Kuggeleijn was one of the few overseas players that performed, but when you go through the rest of the squad, someone stood up to be counted when it mattered most. They were well-coached by Andy Flower and planned their games well like TKR. In the end, you had to tip your hat to Daren Sammy and his team.
Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW), yet again, flattered to deceive. How could a team with excellent batting talent get bowled out for 55. Brandon King, at the top of the order, was a failure and he needs to go back to the drawing board and tighten his game. With the talent Shimron Hetmyer possesses, he should be scoring many more runs consistently. Nicholas Pooran showed his class with a century at the Oval, but he too should be scoring heavier. The team missed the experience of Shoaib Malik in the middle order. Their bowling was steady, but Imran Tahir is not getting any younger and seemed to tire coming to the end of the tournament.
Jamaica Tallawahs (JT), while they reached the semi-finals, was a huge disappointment; too much depended on Glenn Phillips and Andre Russell. Nkrumah Bonner looked solid but got
out at inopportune times. When will Jermaine Blackwood settle? He has talent but thinks he can hit every ball out of the ground. The captaincy seemed to affect Rovman Powell as he never showed up with the bat. Chadwick Walton was on holiday and Asif Ali did not understand that good balls must be respected; he was lackadaisical in his approach. Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Sandeep Lamichhane were excellent, but once they came off the ball, no one could stem the flow of runs against the JT.
The defending champions, BT, were simply awful. They missed their astute coach Phil Simmons and while they started well, the game against the TKR seemed to destroy their spirit. They must have been left baffled wondering what they did wrong to lose that game. They failed to make 93 to defeat the SLZ and by then, they were all looking for the next CAL flight. Outside of Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers and Mitchell Santner covered themselves in glory, not even Rashid Khan impressed. Johnson Charles, at the top of the order, flattered to deceive while they could not find an adequate replacement for Harry Gurney to stop the flow of runs.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots were on holiday. They seemed to lack proper planning, leadership and good management. Ben Dunk will only really be remembered for running across the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in pouring rain through a waterlogged surface. You look at their talented squad and it is obvious they were a disjointed bunch. The overseas players were abysmal and seemed to never help the local players. The franchise must look elsewhere if they are to come back in 2021. How can a team with the bowling talent of Sohail Tanvir, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit and Alzarri Joseph perform so badly that they won only 1 game from 10 on offer? Outside of one good knock from Evin Lewis and two from Joshua Da Silva, their batsmen defaulted.
Colin Murray’s all-star team of the tournament is as follows:
Glenn Phillips (JT - wicket-keeper), Lendl Simmons (TKR), Shimron Hetmyer (GAW), Darren Bravo (TKR), Nicholas Pooran (GAW), Kieron Pollard (TKR - captain), Jason Holder (BT), Akeal Hosein (TKR), Scott Kuggeleijn (SLZ), Mujeeb Ur Rahaman (JT), Imran Tahir (GAW)
Andre Russell (for Jason Holder) and Sunil Narine (for Akeal Hosein) would have been in my XI had they been fit throughout the tournament. How do you rate my all-star team?
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder