DWAYNE Bravo is not leaving the Trinbago Knight Riders, as the team's captain was selected in round one of the 2019 Caribbean Premier League draft yesterday, quelling all speculation that he would not represent the local franchise this season.
Bravo, who will try to lead TKR to a hat-trick of titles this year, was selected in the first round along with Andre Russell (Jamaica Tallawahs), Alex Hales (Barbados Tridents), Lasith Malinga (St Lucia Stars), Shadab Khan (Guyana Amazon Warriors) and Isuru Udana (St Kitts/Nevis Patriots) at the draft in London, England.
On Tuesday, Bravo teased the TKR fans that he would be leaving for another franchise on the CPL Instagram page, saying, "Let's see where the champion will end up this season."
Responding to shocked fans, the long-standing TKR captain commented on the page: "No TKR for me this season guys sorry but I have nuff of the cussing. I need to enjoy my time now good luck TKR fans!!!"
TKR fans would have been even more distraught yesterday when another local newspaper falsely reported that Bravo would play for the Tridents this year.
TKR team manager Colin Borde said that TKR fans can now breathe a sigh of relief. "Dwayne Bravo is Trinidad and Tobago and he is the leader of Trinbago Knight Riders and has done so well for the past six years. We don't expect anything to change in the very near future and I am sure the fans are happy that Dwayne Bravo is there and hopefully he will continue to lead us in the way that he normally does."
Each franchise team was allowed 17 picks in the four-hour long Draft, and TKR retained ten members of the 2018 championship squad – Bravo, his brother Darren, Sunil Narine, Colin Munro, Denesh Ramdin, Khary Pierre, Amir Jangoo, Anderson Phillip, Javon Searles and Ali Khan.
"I think it went as planned. Certainly we were aware that we would lose some players obviously, simply because where they would have been posted in the draft in terms of their monetary value...but we are very happy with the balance of the team and the players that we got," Borde said.
In round two, TKR selected marquee player Kieron Pollard followed by off-spinner Narine in round three and the tournament's top run scorer last year Munro in round four. Munro scored 567 runs that included six fifties.
TKR unfortunately lost leg-spinners Fawad Ahmed and Khan who were both key members of the team. Ahmed, who finished the 2018 tournament as the leading wicket taker with 22 wickets, was selected by St Lucia Stars in round two and Khan, a member of the 2017 TKR outfit, was chosen in round one by the Warriors.
In round five TKR selected wicketkeeper/batsman Ramdin, followed by Darren Bravo in round six. After focusing predominantly on the batting department in the first six rounds, TKR chose Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain in round seven. That pick was followed by left-arm spinner Pierre who had a breakthrough season in 2018 with TKR snatching 11 wickets in seven matches at a low economy rate of 5.65. All-rounder James Neesham of New Zealand will bring some international experience to the team after being selected by TKR in round nine.
Sri Lanka leg-spinner Seekkugee Prassana was picked up in round ten, followed by wicketkeeper/batsman Amir Jangoo, fast bowler Anderson Phillip, batsmen Mark Deyal and Tion Webster, all-rounders Javon Searles and Akeal Hosein, and Pakistan-born US fast bowler Ali Khan, who was third on the wicket-taking list last season with 16.
Borde is confident of another TKR title. "We believe if we do all the right things again, all of the moving parts work well and we plan correctly we have as much a chance of course as anyone else. Certainly what we do have in our ranks are players who have won it three times before and know how to win, so that is going to be a huge part of the tournament. You've got to have the experience on how to play a tournament style cricket."
TKR 2019 team – Dwayne Bravo (captain), Kieron Pollard (marquee player), Sunil Narine, Colin Munro, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Bravo, Mohammad Hasnain, Khary Pierre, Jimmy Neesham, Seekkugee Prassana, Amir Jangoo, Anderson Phillip, Mark Deyal, Tion Webster, Javon Searles, Akeal Hosein, Ali Khan.