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The CPL: Caribbean, cricket and carnival

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Fri Aug 9, 2013

Even as cricket’s newest professional Twenty-20 endeavour, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), reaches its halfway stage, it is clear that in terms of popular acceptance, the CPL is a huge success. The enthusiastic crowds that have flocked to the venues in Barbados, St Lucia and Guyana, where matches have been staged so far, and the interest shown by the Caribbean sporting public, in following the games on television and radio, speak for themselves.{{more}}

The popularity is further enhanced by the fact that this is the August holiday period, traditionally, and more and more so, a period favourable for intra-Caribbean travel. The colourful atmosphere is further enhanced by the CPL coinciding with what is now the real Carnival season in the region. It really is a very practical way to market our region–the Caribbean, Cricket and Carnival.

On the downside though, it is a pity that Vincentians are not being allowed the privilege of assured live viewing on television of all the matches, in spite of sponsorship. We were able to view the Indian Premier League, (at least those with access to the relevant sports channel), live on a daily basis and even Twenty-20 cricket in England and Australia. Why not the CPL? It is not the same, in today’s information-rich world, to view the matches via a relayed broadcast the next day, when the result is already known. We must seek to maintain the enthusiasm of our youths in sports through such live broadcasts, among other measures.

Another challenge, for those who would desire to travel to any of the six host countries from another country, particularly from those countries not fortunate enough to be hosts, is the problem of getting there. The August travelling season tests severely the mettle of the Caribbean’s regional airline, LIAT. This year is no different, and endless are the complaints of air travellers about getting to destinations, and getting there on time. It also brings into focus the age-long issue of the promised inter-island ferry, which would be more than useful in the circumstances. Enabling larger numbers of people to visit the host countries would be a boon, and even if persons cannot get tickets, it would provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to set up outside venues with a ‘big-screen experience’.

There are other tangible benefits and experiences from the CPL which are more than useful for the Caribbean development process. One is the growing partnership between the West Indies Cricket Board and the private sector, including investment in the franchises by both regional and extra-regional investors. This augurs well for sport as a whole and for the future of professional sport in the region.

Then, the very composition of the team, while allowing for experienced international participation, has an even greater significance. The draft of the players, by mixing players from different countries, can, in the long run, strengthen the regional integration process. We are accustomed to national (and in the case of the Windward and Leeward islands, sub-regional) rivalries. Having mixed teams, two of them with captains from other nationalities and another two with non-national coaches, helps to gel us as a people. Similarly, our own Delorn Johnson and Barbadian Fidel Edwards representing Trinidad’s Red Steel, Tino Best travelling west to play for the Lucian Zouks, St Lucian Johnson Charles turning out for Antigua’s Hawksbills, are boosts for regional integration, just as Sunil Narine in the colours of Guyana’s Warriors and Gabriel of Trinidad under the Trident banner of Barbados.

Shame it is, therefore, that some persons in Barbados chose to engage in a distasteful display of petty nationalism with public protests over Kieron Pollard leading the Barbadian Tridents. Such divisive nonsense must be rejected. All over the professional sporting world today, sportspersons are contracted not on the basis of the land of their birth, but on their skill and talents. English cricketers move freely between counties from year to year, so why are we perpetuating this nonsense in a modern world where freedom of movement is more and more prevalent? Let’s give our full support to the integration process!

Finally, on another note, SEARCHLIGHT wishes former national and regional cricketer Lance John a speedy recovery from the injuries sustained while being robbed at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex. May justice speedily catch up with the perpetrators.

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