BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Caribbean Premier League officials said here yesterday the decision to push back the popular domestic Twenty20 tournament in order to accommodate the revised India tour, had been in the best interest of all parties involved.
The CPL was initially set to bowl off in August but will now run from September 4 to October 12, so as to avoid a clash with the touring Indians, who are now set to start their Caribbean series in August instead of July.
Speaking to journalists here alongside Cricket West Indies chief executive, Jonny Grave, and CPL chief executive, Damien O’Donohoe, Russell said the eventual itinerary benefitted CPL, CWI and especially the players.
“We’ve worked very closely with Jonny and his team to make sure there wasn’t any overlap,” Russell explained.
“Cricket West Indies understand that we need obviously the best West Indies players and it also doesn’t make any sense for CPL to be playing while India are here. So there’s been a lot of juggling, negotiations and gnashing of teeth to get the schedule to where it is.”
He added: “We want our fans to be able to watch the best local talent taking part and that is why we are more than happy to be flexible with our dates to make that happen. The biggest party in sport may have been delayed by two weeks, but it is going to be even better as a result.”
The CPL will be in its seventh year but has never before bowled off in September. For the past two years, the tournament has started in August and wrapped up September, while in 2016 it began in June and finished in August.
Barbados will host their complement of matches in September, a move Russell believes will be a boost to tourism numbers at a time which is considered low season in the industry.
“Playing the games in September here is a good thing for Barbados because if you look at the tourist numbers … this is the weakest month,” he pointed out.
“One of the things that we are very keen to do now … is say how can we bring more people in? In CPL you get great cricket but it’s also a hell of an experience during that week so we believe there’s a lot more we can do. It’s about us supporting the tourism effort as much as it is the other way around.”
India are understood to have requested a break following the ICC World Cup which ends July 14, before embarking on the Caribbean tour that will see them play two Tests, three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals.
And with most of the leading West Indies Test and ODI players also involved in their respective franchises, Grave said the revised itinerary would ensure their availability for the CPL.
“We’ve been working really closely with the BCCI (Indian Cricket Board) for several months now around the coming tour and we made the joint decision with BCCI that it was in everyone’s interest to have a break after the World Cup,” he explained.
“So we’ve agreed to postpone the India tour by two weeks to allow the players to have some rest and recuperation after the World Cup.
“I think we all felt that last year’s CPL, with all the Caribbean players available, was exactly how the tournament should be, not just to make sure the senior players and the big stars were there but also for us to measure the performances of young players whether they were scoring runs or taking wickets against the best players in the Caribbean.”
The CPL will see feature six franchises again this year with reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders up against Barbados Tridents, St Lucia Stars, Jamaica Tallawahs, Guyana Amazon Warriors and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.