What went wrong for Trinbago Knight Riders

In this September 10 file photo, Andre Russell of Trinbago Knight Riders is bowled by Imad Wasim of Jamaica Tallawahs during the Men's 2022 Hero Caribbean Premier League match at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Gros Islet, St Lucia. - Photo courtesy CPL T20
In this September 10 file photo, Andre Russell of Trinbago Knight Riders is bowled by Imad Wasim of Jamaica Tallawahs during the Men's 2022 Hero Caribbean Premier League match at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Gros Islet, St Lucia. - Photo courtesy CPL T20

ASKED what went wrong after his team finished in last place in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) on Saturday, Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) skipper Kieron Pollard answered, “Everything.”

If the CPL was played on paper, TKR might have been handed their fifth trophy with a star-studded batting line-up filled with power hitters, and a capable bowling attack including two quality spinners. But the 2022 CPL was certainly a tournament to forget for TKR as the four-time champions struggled with woeful batting and poor death bowling.

It was the first time in the ten-year history of the CPL that TKR failed to qualify for the playoffs. TKR managing director Venky Mysore would be doing his own analysis of where TKR went wrong and what changes, if any, would be needed to avoid a repeat.

Big names fail with the bat

When Andre Russell was signed by TKR and it was announced that Nicholas Pooran would be returning home, much was expected as they added to the firepower of captain Kieron Pollard, ex-CPL MVP Colin Munro and Tim Seifert.

Russell, Pollard and Pooran are among the most destructive T20 batsmen in the world and massive totals seemed inevitable. It was not the case as their 2022 stats make for painful reading.

Russell, who showed glimpses of his power in the SKYEXCH 6ixty tournament before the CPL, was poor with the bat, ending the tournament with 119 runs in nine innings at an average of 17. His highest score was 29.

Pollard was just as ordinary as Russell, scoring 132 runs in nine innings at an average of 14.66. He achieved a high score of 34 and ended the tournament with a strike rate of just 98.50 – well below his T20 career strike rate of 150.

Pooran, despite scoring 52 in one inning, only ended with a total of 108 runs in nine innings. If you minus his knock of 52, he only scored 56 runs in eight innings at an average of seven. His other scores were four, eight, 13, 52, 15, zero, zero, 15 and one.

A lot was expected of West Indies T20 and 50-over captain who would have wanted to use the CPL as a warm-up to the T20 World Cup, which bowls off next month in Australia.

In this September 14 photo, TKR players celebrate the wicket of Paul Stirling of Guyana Amazon Warriors during the 2022 Hero Caribbean Premier League match at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair. - Photo via CPL T20

The usually dependable Munro averaged just 19.75 at a strike rate of 112.05.

The opening pair was an issue for TKR throughout the tournament. It did not matter who opened the batting, an early wicket was certain for the opposing team.

Sunil Narine, Pooran, Tion Webster, Leonardo Julien, Colin Munro and Tim Seifert all opened the batting at some point as TKR chopped and changed looking for answers.

TKR’s highest opening partnership in the tournament was 32, between Seifert and Munro, which came in their final preliminary match on Saturday .

Before their last match, the opening partnerships for TKR were worth six, 13, one, 23, zero, zero, 12 and five.

Would Lendl Simmons have made a difference? The opener was not re-signed by TKR for the 2022 campaign and was absent in the CPL. Simmons spent three years with TKR from 2019-2021, delivering in two of those years.

In 2019, he was the CPL’s second-highest scorer with 430 runs at an average of 39.09. In 2020 he topped the run charts with 356 runs at an average of 39.55.

He had a dip in 2021 with 193 runs at 17.54.

TKR’s highest total batting first was 150/8 and their best score while chasing was156/7.

Scouting of players

Many of TKR’s star players were not at their best, but a few of the team’s other players also did not rise to the occasion.

The team’s pacers had a solid run of form in the first half of the tournament, but in the latter stages leaked a lot of runs in the closing overs.

TKR conceded 69 runs in the last three overs against the Patriots in a crucial match in Guyana and days later leaked 37 runs in the last two overs against Amazon Warriors. The team lost both matches.

TKR’s fast bowling attack included the experienced Ravi Rampaul, Daryn Dupavillon, Anderson Phillip, Jayden Seales, Terrence Hinds and Shaaron Lewis.

The spinners, led by Akeal Hosein and Sunil Narine, kept TKR in contention for a playoff spot.

Webster has spent multiple seasons with TKR but is yet to establish himself as a consistent run-scorer.

Two of TKR’s former players Amir Jangoo and Mark Deyal have had success with other franchises. Jangoo is having a solid season with Tallawahs and Deyal has shown his quality for St Lucia Kings for the past few years.

TKR has traditionally looked to home-grown talent in the past, and this has reaped rewards. But they would do well to better scout the region for future tournaments to bolster their resources.

Seifert showed he was capable with the bat but his strike rate (93.24) was just not enough to apply pressure on opposing teams in the middle overs.

TKR can't deliver at home

TKR played four matches at home – winning two and losing two.

The TT franchise could not ask for more support in front of their home fans at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair and at Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.The only match that was not a near-capacity crowd was TKR’s first match at home at the Queen’s Park Oval on September 13 against Barbados Royals.

Russell told Newsday that the crowd was “crazy.”

TKR lost to Royals by eight wickets, before bouncing back with a 26-run win over Amazon Warriors the following day at Queen’s Park Oval.

TKR’s Nicholas Pooran bats during the Hero CPL T20 match against the Barbados Royals, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair, on September 13. - Ayanna Kinsale

They were victorious again on September 17 with a four-wicket win over Jamaica Tallawahs in Tarouba, but ended their home leg with a one-run loss to St Lucia Kings.

Amazon Warriors have shown the other franchises how to capitalise at home winning their first three games at Providence Stadium to guarantee a place in the playoffs.

Ageing team

The TT franchise had one of the oldest teams in the CPL with many of TKR’s leading players over the age of 30 including Pollard, 35, Samit Patel, 37, Munro, 35, Russell, 34, Narine, 34, Rampaul, 37 and Seekkuge Prasanna, 37.

T20 cricket is a fast-paced game with fielding and quick singles a key part of the game.

Russell has had his injury concerns over the years and picked up an injury in the must-win game on Saturday against Amazon Warriors.


"What went wrong for Trinbago Knight Riders"

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