I feel it is imperative to return to the final of the Caribbean Premier League 2023, so conclusively won by the best team in the tournament.
Because of the late run by the Trinbago Knight Riders and the unexpected implosion of their batting in the final against Guyana Amazon Warriors, I believe an analysis ought to be done.
It’s difficult, even when taking into consideration the glorious uncertainties of cricket, to think that a team, the TT franchise, could have won the title four times (once as Red Steel, three times as TKR), yet do that badly in the 2023 final; especially after convincingly whipping their opponents in the qualifier just a week before. They cruised to victory by seven wickets.
Be that as it may, they met again in the final, GAW having clawed their way back into contention, playing remarkable cricket under their passionate captain, Imran Tahir.
The final arrived and the cause of that calamitous crash for 94 by the TKR was a terrible display of batting.
TKR’s team included the captain Kieron Pollard; the very seasoned Dwayne Bravo; the gifted Nicholas Pooran, who had, as recently as two weeks previously, delighted a crowd of supporters at Queen’s Park Oval by scoring an impeccable century against the Barbados Royals; the flamboyant Andre Russell; plus the young and very promising Keacy Carty.
How can this list of batsmen embarrassingly and chaotically collapse for 94 runs!?
It’s all well and good to talk about the uncertainty of cricket games. Nonetheless, in a final against a team that was convincingly beaten the previous week, it’s asking too much to accept, without digging deeper to discover what weaknesses existed on the day of the final, so that one can at least put together some facts and make sense of them.
So here goes!
On the day of the final, the pitch presented some preparation moisture, which meant that it was two-paced, with variable bounce.
It is surprising that the accomplished batsmen of TKR did not adjust to the necessary batting skills required for that type of wicket. TKR batsmen either completely misread the pitch on which they were sent in to bat by GAW when the latter won the toss, or they couldn’t be bothered, either because they underrated their opponent, or the overconfidence established by their convincing victory over GAW in the qualifier.
Mark Deyal and Walton opened the batting, and the former, after striking a straight six from a Dwaine Pretorius half-volley – a lovely, well-timed stroke – followed this with an uncalled-for swing at a good-length delivery that he missed and clipped his stumps. An unbelievably bad stroke.
The unpredictable Nicholas Pooran was next. Number three in the batting order is usually reserved for the team’s best batsman. The reason for this is the necessary skill to adjust to different situations. However, most of all, he has to possess the cricket intelligence to help the innings progress, without taking unnecessary risks.
Pooran did not display any of these qualities. He advanced down the wicket to the experienced Pretorius, having been dropped to the simplest of catches the ball before, and was trapped in no man’s land. His poor effort of a stroke resulted in him spooning a catch to mid-off.
At least he should have taken a few deliveries to judge the pitch.
Walton was trapped on the back foot with one that kept low; his front foot would have been the better choice for this type of wicket.
The captain, Pollard, entered at position four. One would have thought, being captain, and with his experience, he would wisely weigh his options with two early wickets down for few runs. He accepted the gift of a long hop and struck it straight to the fieldsman at deep mid-wicket to be caught for zero.
Every batsman seemed to be unconcerned and lackadaisical, except for Carty, who was brilliant. Notwithstanding that, the bravado continued by sending the all-rounder, Akeal Hosein – who was out of position at this level – to bat at six. He was sent in before the veterans, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo. Hosein’s swipe at Gudakesh Motie, the skilled left-arm orthodox spinner, was unbecoming and not unexpected.
Then an ungainly swipe by Russell off the leg-spin of Tahir ended an ugly, pathetic batting display, with TGR surrendering the final by nine wickets.
No application, no concentration, no cricket intelligence.