THE 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League is now history. Newsday reflects on the talking points and highlights which includes a medium pacer who grabbed his 500th wicket, a team that played unbeaten throughout and a virus that made the tournament one like no other.
TKR storm to fourth CPL title
From ball one of the tournament TKR, led by captain Kieron Pollard and vice-captain Dwayne Bravo, were a class above the rest.
TKR became the first CPL team to have a perfect campaign as the TT franchise won all 12 of their matches.
The only match TKR looked like losing was a contest against Barbados Tridents at the Queen’s Park Oval.
TKR were in a precarious position on 62 for five in the 13th over chasing 149 for victory.
Pollard came to the crease and pummeled the Tridents bowlers with a knock of 72 off 28 balls with two fours and nine sixes.
The TKR captain fell just before his team got to the target, but it was enough to set up a two-wicket win with one ball to spare.
It was TKR’s sixth consecutive win of the tournament and they never looked back.
Despite making changes to the starting XI throughout the tournament the results remained the same. All 17 players on the squad got an opportunity to play from teenager Jayden Seales to 48-year-old Pravin Tambe.
TKR capped off a stellar effort with an eight-wicket win over St Lucia Zouks in the final at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, on September 10.
The TT franchise went one better than the Guyana Amazon Warriors in 2019 after the franchise won all their matches before losing the final to the Barbados Tridents.
Bravo first to 500 wickets
Dwayne Bravo became the first bowler to claim 500 wickets in T20 cricket, on August 26.
The TKR vice-captain achieved the milestone when he dismissed St Lucia Zouks batsman Rahkeem Cornwall for 18 at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair in the second week of the tournament.
The medium-pacer was also the first to snatch 100 CPL wickets in the process, a tournament that began in 2013.
Bravo, 36, has played over 450 T20 matches since making his debut in the format in 2006.
He has played in several T20 leagues around the world, including the Indian Premier League, Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League and the Big Bash League in Australia.
Speaking to CPLT20 during a rain delay in the match, Bravo said, “First of all, thanks to Almighty God for allowing me to be the first. It is a great journey. I want to say thanks to all my teammates, thanks to all the teams that I have played for around the world.
“And to be able to achieve that right here at home...This is where I started playing cricket at age eight, is where it all started for me and I can’t be a happier person to get that 500th here at the Queen’s Park Oval.”
Afghans show pedigree
Afghanistan are still considered by many as minnows in world cricket, but the country’s cricket is certainly on the rise and several of their cricketers proved that during the 2020 CPL.
The Afghan spinners made use of the spin-friendly wickets in the tournament with some useful performances. Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, representing the Jamaica Tallawahs, ended the tournament as the second leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets in 11 innings at an economy rate of 5.29.
Fellow off-spinner Mohammad Nabi was one of three Afghan players who led the St Lucia Zouks to the CPL final against Trinbago Knight Riders. Not many gave Zouks a chance to advance to the final before the tournament bowled off, but the trio of Afghan cricketers showed pedigree in the team’s run to the final.
Nabi was sixth among all bowlers after grabbing 12 wickets in 12 innings at an economy rate of 5.10, the lowest among the top ten bowlers in the tournament. His team-mate Najibullah Zadran demonstrated his ability with the bat as he finished eighth on the batting chart with 224 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 110.89.
Spinner Zahir Khan, the third Afghan member of the team, was also instrumental to the success when given the opportunity by Zouks captain Daren Sammy. The left-arm spinner snatched eight wickets in seven matches and conceded 6.92 runs per over.
Naveen-ul-Haq proved that Afghanistan can produce quality medium pacers also as the Guyana Amazon Warriors player grabbed 11 wickets in ten matches at an economy rate of 6.42 to finish as the ninth-ranked bowler.
Leg spinner Rashid Khan of the Barbados Tridents, who has already picked up more than 300 wickets in his T20 career, rounded off the top ten with 11 wickets in ten matches at 6.85 runs per over.
Smooth tournament despite covid19
The 2020 CPL was the first T20 franchise tournament held in the world since March when covid19 cases started to increase rapidly around the world.
It was a CPL like no other as fans were not allowed to attend and for the first time, the entire tournament was held in one country. One of the reasons Trinidad was selected to hold the tournament was because of the two world-class facilities available – Brian Lara Cricket Academy and the Queen’s Park Oval.
Over 250 players and officials stayed at the Hilton Hotel in St Ann’s. All the players and officials tested negative for the virus before the tournament bowled off.
The players were only allowed to leave the hotel for training and matches.
In a covid19 media conference after the tournament was completed, the Prime Minister said, “I think we should take comfort from that saying that even though the virus is there, even though the difficulty and the threats are there, it is possible to construct an environment in which we can continue to do the things that we normally would do.”
Batsmen fail to adjustto wickets
While the spinners were enjoying the slow wickets during the tournament, the batsmen failed to change their strategy which resulted in low scores.
Only two batsmen (Lendl Simmons and Glenn Phillips) scored over 300 runs with TKR opener ending as the leading run-scorer with 356 runs and Glenn Phillips was second with 316 runs.
In the 2019 edition, three players cracked more than 400 runs and an additional three scored over 300 runs.
Teams also struggled to post massive scores as there were only two scores over 180 – both achieved by TKR.
In 2019 teams had no problems posting formidable totals as there were 13 scores over 180.
Batsmen failed to rotate the strike and instead played with aggression which led to their demise.
Coaches of the various franchises said the batsmen needed to adjust and TKR captain Kieron Pollard also wanted to see more application from the batsmen.
St Lucia Zouks coach Andy Flower said, “The pitches have been quite tricky, but from what I understand the pitches at the Queen’s Park Oval are usually quite tricky and useful to bowl spin on. So I don’t think that has been any great surprise for anyone. I don’t think that people have batted as well as they could have to be honest.”
Elaborating on the batting strategy, Flower said, “I think if you can alternate strike off-spin bowlers better balls that is a good place to start your innings.”