No one will argue that for the last couple of decades, cricket in the Caribbean has left a large number of West Indian fans in dismay, the team results speak for themselves. Yet, all that changed towards the end of 2012 during the ICC World Twenty20 cup when the West Indians went on to defeat Sri Lanka and were crowned World Twenty20 Champions.
That victory brought the limelight on to the game of Twenty20 and aroused the interest of cricket fans once more in the Caribbean. Hoping to capitalize on this, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) decided to replace an existing Caribbean Twenty20 tournament with a newly improved one called CPL or Caribbean Premier League.
The first ever CPL is being sponsored by Digicel, the Caribbean mobile network which has been sponsoring West Indian cricket for quite some time now. In a statement, Digicel Group Marketing Operations Director Kieran Foley said “The CPL is a perfect fit for Digicel. We’re huge fans of West Indies cricket and this is a great opportunity for us to invest not only in what will be an amazing event, but also in the young cricketers who will benefit from around the region”.
The Caribbean Premier League T20 2013 will be televised by ESPN and will be broadcast throughout the Caribbean, UK & Ireland, the Middle East as well as parts of Africa. ESPN will also stream these matches live to enable people from other parts of the world to follow the CPL. The WICB has also confirmed the schedule for 2014 and 2015. The CPL 2014 will take place between 5 July to 10 August and CPL 2015 will take place between 21 June to 26 July.
The tournament is expected to be held for a period of 4 weeks that will start on the 29th of July and come to an end on the 26th of August 2013. The WICB has officially finalized 6 teams to take part during the 2013 edition. They are Guyana Amazon Warriors, Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, Antigua Hawksbills, St Lucia Zouks, Jamaica Tallawahs and Barbados Tridents.
All of these matches will take place in the West Indies. The following grounds have been selected to host the CPL. The Beausejour Stadium in Saint Lucia, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, Sabina Park in Jamica, Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, Providence Stadium in Guyana and the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The captain and coach for the Guyana Amazon Warriors will be Ramnaresh Sarwan and former West Indian offer spinner Roger Harper; Vivian Richards will coach the Antigua Hawksbills, while Marlon Samuels will captain the side. For St Lucia Zouks, West Indian test captain Darren Sammy will captain the side while Andy Roberts will coach the team. Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel will have West Indian one day captain Dwayne Bravo captain the team while Gordon Greenidge will act as coach. Barbados Tridents will be coached by Desmond Haynes while Kieron Pollard will captain the side and the Jamaica Tallawahs will be captained by Chris Gayle and coached by Paul Nixon the retired England wicketkeeper.
One of the reasons why Twenty20 cricket is popular is because it allows players from other countries, including retired players to come and participate. Infact, one of the main tournament attractions is the signing of foreign nationals and in particular some of the leading superstars in world cricket today. With that in mind, the initial CPL 2013 tournament has not done that bad in this regard. Some of the foreign cricketers who have agreed to sign up include former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting who has confirmed that he will retire from all forms of cricket after the CPL. Apart from Ricky Ponting, some of the other big signings include Herschelle Gibbs, Albie Morkel and Justin Kemp from South Africa, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez from Pakistan, Shaun Marsh, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor from New Zealand and Aussies Shaun Marsh and Steven Smith who could very well miss the tournament as he has been selected to play in the Ashes.
Twenty20 cricket is an unpredictable game that can change within an over. Hence, it hard to predict a favorite team at the start of the tournament as all of the teams look to be pretty well balanced. However, if one was forced to pick, it would be whichever team Chris Gayle is in and that would be the Jamaica Tallawahs. Gayle is considered to be the most destructive batsman in Twenty20 cricket and is highly sought after by all Twenty20 leagues across the world.
One of the main reasons why Twenty20 cricket is so popular is because it creates stars overnight. David Warner, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine have all hogged the limelight largely because of their performance in the Twenty20 format. So one of the things to watch out for is new players who make their mark in this CPL. There are ofcourse a lot of big names in the tournament, including some of the local favorites like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels. The overseas batsmen to watch out for include Ricky Ponting, Albie Morkel, Ross Taylor, Aaron Finch and Umar Akmal.
While Twenty20 cricket has always been a batsmen’s game, bowlers will be looking to make an impact and keep things tight. The pitches in the Caribbean will be dry and dusty and favor spinners. Hence the likes of Sunil Narine, Shane Shillingford, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shakib Al Hasan could very well be the top wicket takers in the tournament.
Twenty20 Premier leagues around the world have recently been rocked with match fixing and spot fixing scandals. The Indian Premier League, the Bangladesh Premier League and the Sri Lankan Premier League have all come under clouds of suspicion that have tainted the tournament and damaged its reputation to a certain extent. The WICB will be maintaining strong security measures to ensure that bookies do not infiltrate the CPL and malign the tournament.
The first semi final is scheduled to take place on 22nd of August, the second semi final on the 23rd of August and the final on the 24th of August. All three matches will be held at the Queens Park Oval.
Trinidad & Tobago: Dwayne Bravo, Ross Taylor, Darren Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Aaron Finch, Samuel Badree, Kevon Cooper, Kevin O’Brien, Sulieman Benn, Adrian Barath, Delorn Johnson, Nicholas Pooran, Yannick Cariah, Miguel Cummins, Justin Guillen.
Antigua and Barbuda: Marlon Samuels, Ricky Ponting, Kieran Powell, Johnson Charles, Kemar Roach, Steven Smith, Sheldon Cotterell, Dave Mohammed, Devon Thomas, Gavin Tonge, Justin Kemp, Rakheem Cornwall, Jahmar Hamilton, Anthony Martin, Montcin Hodge.
St. Lucia: Darren Sammy, Herschelle Gibbs, Albie Morkel, Tino Best, Tamim Iqbal, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Andre Fletcher, Garey Mathurin, Liam Sebastien, Dalton Polius, Kavem Hodge, Kenroy Peters, Nelon Pascal.
Barbados: Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik, Dwayne Smith, Shakib Al Hasan, Umar Akmal, Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Rayad Emrit, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Kyle Mayes, Devendra Bishoo, Kirk Edwards, Ramon Reifer.
Jamaica: Chris Gayle, Muttiah Muralitharan, Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Shaun Marsh, Vernon Philander, Danza Hyatt, Carlton Baugh, Nikita Miller, Jacques Rudolph, Chadwick Walton, Jermaine Blackwood, Akeem Dewar, Dave Bernard, Nkrumah Bonner.
Guyana: Sunil Narine, Mohammad Hafeez, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, James Franklin, Christopher Barnwell, Martin Guptill, Krishmar Santokie, William Perkins, Steven Jacobs, Ronsford Beaton, Trevon Griffith, Narsingh Deonarine, Veerasammy Permaul.