The long, exciting and sometimes tiresome Caribbean Premier League (CPL) season has come to its end. This is being written before the final bowls off on Sunday between the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) and the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) at Providence Stadium, Guyana.
These are the two deserving sides, especially GAW as they enjoyed an almost perfect ride of victories with the one serious stumble in the homestretch against the very team qualified to meet them in the final, the TKR.
However, they fought back like any true champion, to whip the Jamaica Tallawahs and regain the place they so richly earned, to challenge the TKR once more, to claim the winners' trophy and become the champions for 2023.
They have an unmemorable history of putting their best foot forward, playing successfully until they get to the final hurdle, then, for some inexplicable reason, they fumble, thereby sacrificing the cherished trophy which could prove them honourable champions of the CPL.
For five tournaments in the years 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019 they were the runners-up against Tallawahs at PoS, Tridents at Basseterre, Tallawahs at Basseterre, TKR at Tarouba, and Tridents at Tarouba, respectively. This year, they played in the final at home against the TKR, a franchise that has won the accolade four times in its first ten years.
It’s the second time the final would take place on Guyanese soil, hence, in front of their own fan base, therefore, with partisan support, GAW could not ask for more. Nonetheless, choking could be worse in front of one’s home fans as it produces some anxiety to please friends, supporters and family members, thus, increasing the tension.
Also, having been in five finals without putting their hands on the trophy, the players could be over-anxious to the point of thinking whether there’s a jinx on them. They are so longing for their first taste of victory in a final that losing five before this year, could prey on the minds of the individuals on the team, especially those who have been involved before, like the present captain, Imran Tahir.
How do the Warriors battle the choking that they’ve suffered for so many years? And why do the TKR team keep winning when they play finals? They’ve won every final in which they’ve been involved.
Cricket is a game of not only physical ability and very good co-ordination, but a sport that relies heavily on temperament, which has to do with a person’s character or disposition. The mentality to deal with any situation is a vital input for the sportsman, but especially for a batsman in cricket.
The stage personality of the two captains on show could decide the end result. Tahir is excitable as can be seen when he deceives a batsman and takes his wicket. He races away in elation. Kieron Pollard, on the other hand, is unflappable and composed.
GAW, having never won it, would hope for more calm leadership from their skipper while the TKR players would have grown used to Pollard as an experienced captain who has grown accustomed to winning, not only for the TT franchise, but games for other franchises.
The best show of temperament is the sportsman who is extremely conscious of his responsibility and all that goes with it, who is really very thrilled and enthusiastic under the surface but who keeps his emotions under control. The sort of player who would find it difficult to sleep or eat as usual just before a big match. That type usually possesses a high degree of nervous energy which comes into play at the critical hour.
TKR have been in three finals, and under the name, Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, once. Dwayne Bravo (three titles) and Pollard (one) have been the winning captains for the TT franchise.
The motivation of a team is fuelled by the captain, encouraged by the basic rite of enthusiasm, plus the will to win. These are the necessary injections in a side for them to seek victory by all means.
In a final, on match day, that is what makes the difference. A battle of willpower.
GAW have been playing so well it would be difficult to envisage a team in their situation having a shortage of the necessary confidence. The captain has been around for some time and is 44 years old, and I feel sure he would love to win this trophy as his retirement gift.
May the better team win.