The prospect of a highly successful maiden T20 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in July looms, given the uniqueness of the Caribbean and the fact that the diverse talent will be playing for different franchises instead in some cases for their own country. I anticipate that passion and wizardry will unfold as franchise player Sunil Narine will wear the colours of Guyana instead of Trinidad; likewise expect Shivnarine Chanderpaul to exhibit his consummate versatility for his franchise, St Lucia. I was particularly heartened as well with the decision by the organisers to appoint former West Indian greats to management roles for the tournament, including organising, promoting and coaching. The likes of Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Roger Harper, Curtly Ambrose and Andy Roberts will provide the expertise that can only augur well for the calypso type of cricket that Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith have promoted around the cricketing globe.
Were these new initiatives by the WICB under the leadership of Dave Cameron? My only regret though is that double world record-holder Brian Lara is not an ingredient in the mix in some form or another, whilst the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should not have opposed the request to have its Indian stars participate. This is a decision that may have future consequences for the IPL, given the WICB’s contrasting stance. That notwithstanding, this momentous event presents a golden opportunity for the young and already established local players to discover the unlimited heights that the infamous Alan Stanford had envisioned for cricket in the West Indies. Past contentious experiences including the 50 Overs World Cup in 2007 which effectively restricted the explosion of the Caribbean’s cultural diversity and was in some cases associated with immigration hassles belong in the past. Instead let the drums as well as the costumes worn by the legendary Vincentian comedian Gravy, transcend the Caribbean Sea.
While the Caribbean has always been a popular venue to play, as publicly acknowledged by former Australian captain Ricky Pointing who incidentally will be one of a number of foreign international recruits to grace the CPL, this event will shape the future of cricket’s economic global reach in the region, in addition to which it will greatly benefit the local players who will now be globally exposed as well as being contracted to play continuously even beyond the CPL. The tournament will also test the management skills of the key administrative personnel. Virtually all six franchises are formidable, and while I am excited about franchise Guyana’s chances, there is seldom a foregone result in a 20/20 encounter. What is likely to be achieved though is the potential to ignite the flamboyant talent of the Caribbean in myriad ways and the creation of a unique flavour unmatched anywhere else in the world. Will Chris Gayle upstage his record 175? If so, then the Caribbean will be a great place to be this summer for the historic CPL.