PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC– Nail biting encounters and packed venues are predicted while millions from around the world will be glued to television screens as the curtain rises on the fourth edition of an eagerly anticipated HERO Caribbean Premier league (CPL) today.
A season opening clash between defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders and St.Lucia Zouks will trigger an action-packed series of matches that have drawn the best T20 cricketers from around the world on show in the Caribbean.
The famous Queen’s Park oval in Trinidad is the stage for the first round show-down between Zouks and TKR starting seven PM Eastern Caribbean time.
”Just watching it from the previous years it looks like a huge amount of fun but with a lot of competitiveness,” noted St.Lucia Zouks David Miller, one of several international players making their debut this year.
“So I think it’s going to be a great tournament and I am just going to enjoy learning from a lot of guys and soaking up the culture here in the Caribbean”.
Three teams have been crowned champions of the CPL since its inception in 2013. Chris Gayle’s Jamaica Tallawahs grabbed the inaugural title, followed by Kieron Pollard’s Barbados Trident and Dwayne Bravo’s Trinbago Knight Riders, formerly Red Steel.
This year, CPL’s stature appears to be have mushroomed by the presence of the world’s leading T20 cricketers playing alongside the top exponents of the shortest format from the region.
“Our international players, namely captain Martin Guptill, Dwayne Smith, Chris Lynn, Sohail Tanvir along with young Adam Zampa, will of course grab a lot of attention and we expect them to lead from the front,” said Roger Harper coach of the Guyana Amazon Warriors, a major title contender.
“We also have a number of regional and local players that will have a great impact on the CPL this year; players like Rayad Emrit, Christopher Barnwell and Veerasammy Permaul, just to name a few. However, the strength and performance of our squad as a whole is what will make us successful.”
Last year’s CPL was a close contest with all four teams at the top of the table winning six matches.
This year’s tournament is predicted to be even tougher.
“This CPL has some superb talent right throughout every team that’s playing,” said Simon Helmot, coach of Trinbago Knight Riders as they prepare to start their defence against Zouks today.
“It was very close last year with all four teams at the top winning six matches, but this year is going to be even tougher again”. The defending champions are without the services of one of the world’s leading T20 bowlers in Samuel Badree.
Badree, the Trinidad and Tobago spinner, who will be representing the Patriots this year, says he is eager to improve the fortunes of his new franchise.
“It is a little bit bitter sweet for me having to leave TKR but this is the nature of T20 franchise cricket. I am really excited to be part of the St.Kitts Patriots .We have never made it to the semis,” Badree said.
“So I think from the St.Kitts Patriot’s point of view we want to make it to the semis and possibly go all the way to the finals. All the teams look really strong on paper. So it’s a matter of going out there on the field and playing to the best of your ability”.
The CPL T20 tournament is divided into a group stage and a knockout stage.
In the group stage, the teams each play 10 matches overall, four of which are at home, with each team also playing two neutral venue games in Central Broward Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida from July 28-31.
“On the field we intend to win by playing good cricket. Our squad features several world class players who can change any game. Working together as a unit is important for our team’s success,” said Barbados Tridents Owner Dr Vijay Mallya.
“Fans will witness an unparalleled experience never seen before in the Caribbean. They’ll have a chance to see their team in new kit and enjoy an improved stadium experience which will draw on their passion for the game. On the field, our team is focused on winning.”
On Tuesday, organizers announced that the finals of this year’s CPL have been awarded to Warner Park in St.Kitts and Nevis to be played over four matches starting August third and culminating August seven.