BY BRYAN DAVIS
IT was a professional display. After all was said and done the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) sailed through undefeated in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 tournament. An impeccable performance, driven by a mix of strong leadership and self-confidence plus a remarkable drive which, when stirred, could only transform ability and skill into a winning combination.
It was Kieron Pollard’s series. It was in the 17th game of the competition played at the Queen’s Park Oval, the stadium where the captain of the TKR honed his skills as a young man, that the 2019 champions Barbados Tridents succumbed to a blitz of scoring shots that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it on their television screens in their lockdown homes throughout the cricket world.
As a reminder: TKR’s target was 149 to win the game, the score was 62 for five with 44 balls remaining when skipper Pollard strode confidently to the crease. At this stage of the tournament, TKR had won all of the five games they had played which would have been exactly at the halfway point.
Tridents had won two out of a similar five. In other words, they had high hopes at this juncture to stop the Riders and improve their standing.
Thus, with half the TKR side down, still 87 runs short and only 7.2 overs left, an elated feeling must have risen in the breast of the Tridents captain, Jason Holder.
Pollard’s calmness belied the situation. He battered the bowling to various parts of the boundary for six-hits that were exhilarating to witness, provided one was supporting TKR. That powerful man with the muscular build struck 72 runs off 28 balls; 54 of those runs came from sixes and eight from four-boundaries. Only ten of the 72 runs did not cross the boundary.
In contrast, the slightly built Khary Pierre, deftly stroked a six and a four over point to bring an end to the proceedings and ensure the captain’s innings was not in vain. And that was the end of the Tridents and the beginning of the march of the TKR to the title, as nothing could stop them after that virtuoso performance.
Pollard led by example of sheer will power, proving to his team what it is like to have the will to win. The team learnt well and any tricky situation onwards was always dealt with confidence and fighting spirit. He was appropriately named the Player-of-the-Series.
On the other hand, the Tridents were crushed, never recovered and did not qualify for the semifinals, while TKR carried on from victory to victory without losing a game or ever getting themselves in such a bind again. It was the defining moment of the tournament when the 2019 defenders were outplayed by the 2020 favourites.
The final against the Zouks, and all that finals are built up to be, eventually finished as a one-sided affair. In the end, TKR were easily the stronger of the two and proved to be the strongest of the six teams on a whole.
The reasons were plain to see. They possessed the best all-round team in the tournament which anyone with eyes to see would see. However, a team on paper is just that and nothing more. What any team needs is good sound leadership which makes a poor team better, a mediocre team good, a good team excellent and an excellent team unbeatable.
In all sport there is a winner and a loser, nonetheless, the well-led team is better prepared and approaches the game with more confidence, obtained through long hard hours of practice, is usually the victor.
Hence, no matter how strong a team appears on paper, they will be outplayed, if they’re not primed by their coach, captain and their management team.
All these factors have to come into play to have a winning side; for any team can win a tournament.
There are many attributes required and not only the physical skill but also the emotional control, the deep desire, the winning attitude, loads of self-confidence, and a togetherness as a team where all have respect for each other, with everyone encouraging his teammate to perform at his best.
Then, they become one family, united for a common cause; to win. Until this can be achieved, the mediocre would escape and win.
These are the attributes that TKR controlled in 2020 and made them easily the best team in the competition. As Darren Sammy said; TKR was always the team to beat.