The clouds of uncertainty, due to the global pandemic, have finally diminished as the gentlemen’s game is back, in full swing.
The highly awaited Caribbean Premier League is about to kick off on August 18. All the teams are looking in good shape. Let’s analyse the squads and see where they stand.
Squad: Jonson Charles, Jonathan Carter, Ashley Nurse, Justin Greaves, Jason Holder, Raymon Reifer, Hayden Walsh, Shai Hope, Nyeem Young, Rashid Khan, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Kyle Mayers, Joshua Bishop, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shayan Jahangir, Marcus Stoinis.
1) Explosive Top Order
Their top 3 batsmen, Alex Hales, Marcus Stoinis, and Johnson Charles can prove to be a deadly combination for all oppositions.
Although, Hales didn’t have a good run in CPL 2019 where he could only manage 158 runs in 12 innings, the man from Middlesex is coming back from two successful outings in Big Bash League and Pakistan Super League respectively. Hales looks good enough to send bowlers out of the park in this year’s CPL T20.
Marcus Stoinis, unlike Alex Hales, will be debuting in the CPL this year.
The part-time all-rounder had a dream season in BBL-09 with the bat. He hammered the bowlers for 705 runs in 17 matches and led his side to the final. The man from Perth will be hoping to repeat the same in CPL 2020.
2) Formidable Upper & Lower Middle Order
Besides Hales and Stoinis, the two time CPL champions will look up to the local batting talents like: Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, and Jonathan Carter in the middle. Shai Hope can play the anchor role with his temperament to occupy the crease as well as his ability to find boundaries in the death overs.
Moreover, the defending champions will have the services of Jason Holder, Nyeem Young (U19 world cup sensation), and Ashely Nurse to score quickly in the death overs. So Tridents seems to tick all the boxes as for as their batting is concerned.
3) Quality Spinners
Jason Holder will have the option to roll his spinners in the middle overs.
His team consists of 2 quality wicket-taking wrist spinners: Rashid Khan and Hayden Walsh Jr.
The right arm wrist spinner from Afghanistan is new to none in the cricketing world. He made his debut season in CPL in 2017 with Guyana Amazon Warriors, where the mystery spinner took 14 wickets in 12 matches with an economy of just 5.8.
Walsh Jr. has also done well in previous CPL seasons with the bowl.
The mystery leg spinner was the leading wicket-taker in CPL 2019 with 22 wickets in just 9 matches. His performances in the CPL 2019 earned him his maiden call for the West Indies national team in Nov 2019.
The deadly combo of mystery spinners: Rashid Khan and Walsh Jr will look to halt runs as well as take wickets during middle overs. Plus, Tridents can utilize Ashely Nurse as a part-time off-spinner along with his six-hitting capabilities at the end.
1) Death Bowling
Barbados Tridents seem to have a balanced squad.
However, the two-time champions lack variety in the death bowling options. The current alternatives are Jason Holder, emerging all-rounder Nyeem Young, and the established county bowler Harry Gurney.
Apart from Harry Gurney, who is well known for his bag of tricks and variations at the death, both the fast bowlers can go for runs in the death overs.
2) Inexperienced Bench Strength:
Barbados Tridents seem to look good only when their playing XI is fighting fit. But they’re look weak in terms of having quality back up options in case of any injury to the squad players. Let’s hope that their best playing Xi remains available for the whole season.
Alex Hales(Overseas), Marcus Stoinis(Overseas), Shai Hope(wk), Johnson Charles, Jonathan Carter, Jason Holder(C), Nyeem Young(Em), Ashley Nurse, Rashid Khan(Overseas), Harry Gurney(Overseas), Hayden Walsh Jr.
St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots
St. Patriots have had a hard run in the CPL T20 so far.
2017 was a year when the franchise achieved its best CPL performances. They finished 2nd in the table and were runners-up, coming just a few steps short from clinching the title.
However, the Patriots have finished in the top 4 for the past 3 years, after facing consecutive tough years in the start.
The side from St. Kitts and Nevis looks good on paper. Let’s find out whether they’ve built a squad to lift the trophy this year or not?
1) Explosive openers:
Both the openers of Patriots, Evin Lewis and Chris Lynn, are well known for their six-hitting abilities.
The fearless openers have proved their might in the CPL playing for different teams. Lewis, the left-handed opener from Trinidad was the leading run-scorer for his former side, TKR, in 2017. He scored 371 runs with an astonishing strike rate of 185, smashing 31 sixes.
Chris Lynn has previously played for 3 different teams in 3 years in the CPL T20.
2016 was the year when the Australian opener smashed the bowlers out of the park.
He was the leading run-scorer with 454 runs in 12 matches. It remains to be seen, what exciting cricket do these 2 openers bring to the league when given a go in the power-plays? It would be thrilling to watch, that is for sure.
2) Strong Fast Bowling Line-up
The fast bowling department of St. Kitts seems formidable. Experienced swing bowler, Sohail Tanvir, young fiery pace bowler, Alzarri Joseph, and the soldier, Sheldon Cottrell will be part of their fast bowling arsenal.
Sohail Tanvir is an experienced campaigner. He has done well in the CPL for the past 5 seasons.
The left-arm unorthodox swing bowler from Pakistan averages 21.2 with 63 wickets in 54 matches in the CPL T20.
He’d be joined by the Windies left-arm fast bowler, Sheldon Cottrell. The man with a celebration of soldier-like salutes has done well in CPL as well as in maroon colors.
The left-arm fast bowling duo will be joined by the young fast bowler, Alzarri Joseph. It would be fascinating to see the trio bowling together for the first time in the CPL T20 this year.
3) Solid Middle Order:
The Patriots batting line up looks solid in the middle order, apart from aggressive openers.
They have hard-hitting batsmen like, Van Dussen, Ben Dunk, experienced wicketkeeper-batsman, Dinesh Ramdin, and the emerging wicket-keeper batsman Joshua Da Silva.
Van Dussen is a veteran South African middle-order batsman who can take the game deep. He also possesses the ability to launch big shots when needed.
Van Dussen will be joined by the Queenslander batsman, Ben Dunk. The left-handed batsman had a good run in the recently played season of PSL.
He smashed 266 runs in 8 matches, with two 90 plus scores. Big Ben will be hoping to replicate the same performances with the bat in CPL this season.
The following are some of their weak links in the squad.
1) Lack of quality spin-bowlers:
Quality spinners are hard to find in this squad.
Though the side has known spinners in the form of Fabian Allen and Ish Sodhi, both of them seem to be struggling in the CPL.
The left-arm orthodox spinner averages over 50 with an economy rate of 8.2 in his CPL career so far. Whereas, the Kiwi spinner has played just 2 games in the 7th edition of CPL and had an economy rate of 9.
Chris Lynn (overseas), Evin Lewis, Dinesh Ramdin, Ben Dunk (overseas), R. Van Dussen (overseas), Joshua Da Silva(emerging), Rayad Emrit, Fabian Allen, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Sohail Tanvir (overseas).
St. Lucia Zouks
The franchise has been struggling to make a strong impression in the league so far.
Only once has the side ever qualified for the play-offs and that too in 2016.
The franchise had to bear with the shocking news of Chris Gayle pulling out of the tournament for this season.
The six-hitting machine was meant to be playing for St. Lucia Zouks this season until he made himself unavailable for this season, citing personal reasons.
The Darren Sammy-led side will surely miss the presence of the Big guy. However, the squad still looks formidable and ready to take the CPL challenge. Let’s have a look at the players they’ve grouped together for this year’s CPL T20.
Kimani Melius, Andre Fletcher, Daren Sammy, Navem Hodge, Kesrick Williams, Rahkeem Cornwall, Obed Mccoy, Rilee Rossouw, Mohammad Nabi, Colin Ingram, Anrich Nortje, Noor Ahmad, Mark Deyal, Chemar Holder, Leniko Boucher, Javelle Glen, Saad Bin Zafar.
The St. Lucian squad looks good with a mixture of talented players. The side will be led by the veteran Darren Sammy.
The two-time T20 world cup winning captain brings excitement and fun to the dressing room.
He has experience of playing in all the major leagues around the globe and has a history of achievement with the teams he has led.
The following are some of their key picks to watch out for this year’s Caribbean Premier League.
Fletcher & Rahkeem Combo:
Fletcher, the established opener from Grenada has been part of the St. Lucian squad since inception. He has performed well so far, scoring 1870 runs in 66 CPL innings. The Caribbean opener is capable of playing along the ground as well as hitting big shots when needed.
He was the second-best batsman in the CPL 2015 with 369 runs in 10 matches. Darren Sammy’s side will be hoping to get the same performances out of Fletcher as he did in 2015.
Rahkeem Cornwall, the giant all-rounder from Antigua, can be a go-to guy in the absence of Chris Gayle.
The 150kg giant cricketer possesses the power to hit any bowler out of the stands. He’ll surely be a player to watch-out-for for the upcoming season of CPL T20 with the bat as well as with his off-spinning deliveries.
The South African Trio:
St. Zouks went for the South African trio: Rilee Rossouw, Colin Ingram, and Anrich Nortje, to solidify their middle order as well as to enrich their fast bowling arsenal.
Both the middle-order batsmen possess a vast experience of playing around the globe with different franchises.
Colin Ingram has previously been part of the CPL for the last 2 seasons. He was part of the CPL-winning TKR squad of 2018, and then moved to St. Lucian side for the next year.
However, Anrich Nortje and Rilee Rossouw will be playing in the CPL for the first time. It remains to be seen whether the change of captain and addition of some new faces make the St. Lucian side 8th time lucky or not? Only the time will tell.
U19 stars: Kimani Melius & Noor Ahmad:
This season, the St Lucian side will provide opportunities to the young players like Kimani Melius and Noor Ahmed. The former was Windies U19 side captain for this year’s world cup; whereas, the latter is a young 15-year-old spinner from Afghanistan.
Noor will add to his CPL side’s spin bowling arsenal; whereas, Melius a back-up option for the opening slot.
1) Absence of Chris Gayle:
The absence of Chris Gayle will surely haunt the Sammy-led side. Plus the side possesses a dreadful history of being knocked out before the play-offs, 6 out of 7 times.
Let’s hope that the change of a few faces in the squad makes them champions this season.
2) Lack of Quality Local Middle-order Batsmen:
The St. Lucian side seems to be too dependent on overseas players in the middle order. Sammy’s side seriously lacks one or two quality local batters who could bat deep and win the games for their side.
They might face a tricky situation while trying to balance 4 overseas and 7 local players.
Cover image credit: CPL T20