The World Twenty (T20) Championships won’t take place until 2020 in Australia but what the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has shown once more is that the region has enormous depth in their ranks. This will surely be harnessed in numerous T20 leagues over the next few years but it bodes well for selectors to blood in new faces and ones who have been fringe players lately.
Chris Gayle will be 40, Dwayne Bravo 36 and Kieron Pollard 33, so selectors will have to assess how the youth will be ushered in. T20 is a format where you can play at an older age but the wear-and-tear from all the T20 cricket the likes of these stars will be playing globally will surely take its toll. The deep pool also has to be worked in by being proactive, given that player-board disputes or players refusing international duty are issues that plague the team as well. Chadwick Walton, Evin Lewis (who is set to face England), Andre McCarthy, Andre Fletcher and the experienced Kevon Cooper are just a few exemplary performers that need to be looked at for regular game-time.
Dwayne Bravo is arguably the most elite T20 performer in the business today. His all-round capability, as seen in years in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Lions, is second to none. In the CPL, he’s more known for his bowling than his batting, consistently among the tournament’s leading wicket-takers. This year, his astute captaincy showed again, especially in the knockout against Guyana Amazon Warriors where he rotated his bowlers off the cuff to stun the batsmen.
No bowler bowled a second consecutive over to start the match, showing how bold Bravo was in a clutch scenario. His discipline has improved drastically and the only thing that can stop this beast of an athlete is injury. Bravo appeared very calculating at times, with shades of his IPL teammate MS Dhoni seemingly rubbing off. West Indies fans deserve to see him in One-Day colours again too because Bravo clearly has limited overs hunger in him still. A second CPL title justifies this and perhaps offers an alternative captain to the budding yet struggling Jason Holder.
The region’s spinners failed to give an impressive account of themselves, being overshadowed by Sunil Narine who nabbed 12. He was the only West Indian to take over 10 wickets. Samuel Badree (St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots) and Shane Shillingford (St. Lucia Stars) scalped a respectable eight but the likes of Veerasammy Permaul, Imran Khan and Akeal Hosein failed to deliver. Devendra Bishoo was off on duty in England so there was an opening to see who could rival Narine.
Sadly, the opportunity was embraced by foreigners. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (14 and a hat-trick) and Mohammed Nabi (nine), Shadab Khan (12) and Tabraiz Shamsi (11) stood out and made the West Indian pitches seem like home. If regional selectors are looking to see who could replace Narine, this year’s edition wasn’t the place that bowler could be found. This is one area that could be problematic to the Windies’ overall depth.
The CPL has been seen as one of the tournaments with more leeway due to the region’s festive nature but this shouldn’t be abused. The celebrations seem to be getting more and more outrageous and bordering on ridiculous. The ICC Code of Conduct says a player is in breach by “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match.”
Although CPL matches are not international, what is the message being sent to youngsters with almost every regional bowler giving batsmen an unceremonious send-off upon their dismissal? Will this be reined in only when an on-field altercation breaks out between a bowler and an aggrieved batsman? The CPL needs to buckle down on discipline if it’s to be seen as more than a party league. From the controversial Kieron Pollard no-ball incident to Tabraiz Shamsi’s petulance on the field in the final to certain commentators making lewd remarks in jest, things should be more professional.
The CPL should look at honouring the West Indies’ Women and incorporating them into the league. Sure, it will be more in terms of monies paid, logistics and such but to boast the World T20 champions yet never have them be part of the event is shocking. WI women’s captain Stafanie Taylor and others have gotten T20 contracts in England and Australia. It’s a gross disrespect to the women who have topped the world to omit them from this showpiece. The Big Bash in Australia has shown the way with a men and women’s edition.
It’s disappointing TT especially couldn’t see home-grown stars like Anisa Mohammed, even if in an exhibition match in the semis or final. These would be double-header spectacles and so inspirational to the plethora of young ladies and girls who come out in droves every year. They should see their own gender on display and feted, much like India, Australia and England do with their female leagues. More female umpires and players on show would show progression for the region.