ACCORDING TO the biblical chapter Matthew 20:16, “the last shall be first”.
And that could not be more apt as St Kitts/Nevis Patriots, who looked like complete misfits in the 2020 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) here in Trinidad (winning one out of their ten games), dramatically turned things around to secure the 2021 crown, in front of their home fans, at Warner Park, Basseterre on Wednesday.
On the flip side, it was another year of final heartbreak for St Lucia Kings, who were the runners-up in 2020 (to the Trinbago Knight Riders). On Wednesday, they were close, but yet so far, as the Patriots secured their first-ever CPL title.
Due to the covid19 pandemic, the CPL, for the second straight year, was staged in one country. However, fans were allowed for most of the matches, unlike 2020 which was a closed-door affair.
One of the positives this year was the battle for semi-final spots. Entering Sunday’s final day of the preliminary stage, the Patriots, Kings, TKR, Guyana Amazon Warriors and Jamaica Tallawahs were all with a chance of making it to the last four. But the Amazon Warriors got the better of the Tallawahs in the second game of Sunday’s triple-header, a result which confirmed the semi-final teams.
Dwayne Bravo, first-time Patriots’ captain, after he moved from the TKR in April, said, “I challenged myself to come here (to Patriots) and see if I could do something different and I’m very happy. This will be right on top even though I’ve won a lot. This will be special because, again, it was a new franchise, out of my comfort zone, coming here not knowing what to expect – I think this is maybe in the top three because it’s a young-ish team, a couple of seniors.”
Bravo’s leadership was one of the key reasons for the Patriots title conquest. Chris Gayle, who also returned to the Patriots from the Tallawahs (even though he missed the 2020 edition), struggled with the bat (165 runs in nine matches) but Bravo mentioned, “I always wanted an opportunity for both of us to play CPL together, now we’re in the same team and now we’re champions together. The Universe Boss and The Champion in one team – one thing can happen.”
Sherfane Rutherford joined the Patriots from the Amazon Warriors and posted 262 runs in ten innings, while leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, a member of the 2020 TKR team, took 11 wickets in ten matches.
Opener Evin Lewis, all-rounders Dominic Drakes and Fabian Allen, off-spinner Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Joshua Da Silva and Devon Thomas – all part of the Patriots’ 2020 squad – all played key roles in the successful 2021 journey.
Lewis was the team’s leading scorer with 426 runs, Drakes (the star of the final) scored 102 runs and took a team-leading 16 wickets, Allen compiled 137 runs and took nine wickets, Jaggesar snapped up nine wickets, while Da Silva and Thomas (who shared wicketkeeping duties) also made vital contributions, behind and in front of the stumps.
(CPL REVIEW CONTINUES ON SATURDAY)