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CPL – A success, but disappointment for OECS

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Fri Aug 23, 2013

The inaugural staging of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has turned out to be a huge success for regional cricket fans and administrators, judging by crowd response and the heartening responses from sponsors and investors in the six franchises. A sense of satisfaction has enveloped the region, which augurs well for the future of the tournament.{{more}}

The “feel-good” factor in the Eastern Caribbean, where two of the franchises are based, in Antigua (the Hawksbills) and St Lucia (the Zouks), is somewhat tempered though, by the poor results of those two teams, neither of which managed to reach the final stages. The Hawksbills and Zouks could each only manage two victories in seven matches and the two “small-island” franchises ended up at the foot of the table. This turned out to be a huge disappointment for players and fans alike, especially given the enthusiastic support of the fans who packed the Viv Richards Stadium and the Beausejour Ground in huge numbers.

Glowing assessments of the CPL in the regional and international media have highlighted the role of the foreign players in making it such a success. There is no doubt that the presence of the extra-regional players, (four were allowed per team), was a contributing factor, particularly the experience passed on to younger players. Yet the language used in some reports tended to be “laying it on a little thick”, as the saying goes.

One report in ESPN’s Cricinfo website for instance, spoke of the “… heavy-duty presence..” of these players, who “…raised the quality of the cricket..” Cricket-lovers in the OECS cannot help but raise eyebrows at such reports. Sure, the participation of such “greats” as Ricky Ponting and Muralitharan, both now retired from international contests, and the formidable Sri Lankan duo of Jayawardene and Sangakkara, was a boon to the new league, but many of the imports fell below expectations on the field.

The Zouks and Hawksbills can feel hard done by in this regard. The latter featured the vastly experienced Ponting and the touted “hard-hitting” pair of the South African Justin Kemp and Australian Ben Rohrer as the expatriate contingent to boost the Caribbean trio of Johnson Charles, Kieran Powell and skipper Marlon Samuels. Feats on the field did not match the hype. Ponting’s decline was further exposed by his 41 runs in four innings; Kemp managed four runs less and Rohrer 85. By contrast, the Caribbean trio for the Hawksbills combined to total 457 runs. “Heavy-duty” foreigners, they say?

Similarly the Zouks had Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq, the explosive Bangladeshi opener Tamim, another international retiree, Herschel Gibbs and his fellow South African Albie Morkel in their ranks. But Gibbs, like Ponting, proved to be a shadow of his former greatness, managing a mere 71 runs from his six innings. Tamim continued to throw away his wicket after impressive starts, and Misbah only had one innings of note. It was left to the Windwards’ pair of Andre Fletcher and Windies skipper Darren Sammy to put runs on the board. Morkel, the heralded all-rounder, could muster but a paltry 16 runs from his seven outings and had a bowling economy rate of more than eight runs per over.

So, for the future, these franchises will have to pay serious attention to the foreigners recruited. The Zouks certainly missed the Guyanese star batsman, Chanderpaul, who had to withdraw after being drafted, but the two youngest players in the squad, Kavem Hodge of Dominica, a promising batsman, and the St Lucian all-rounder Dalton Polius were not even given a try, despite the failure of the “big names”. Experience and entertainment must be balanced with an eye to the future.

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