Somewhere in an American jail Allen Stanford might or might not have got the news of the unqualified success thus far of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League T20 Tournament.
His Stanford 20/20 Tournament back in 2006 was hugely popular in the Caribbean. It enriched a number of regional cricketers and showed how the marriage among sports, entertainment and tourism could provide significant stimuli for some of our regional economies. Unfortunately, his dream turned quickly into a nightmare, not because that dream was misguided, but things that occurred while wide awake were.
The dream has now returned in the form of the LCPL and once again Caribbean people have embraced it with immense fervour.
packed houses at Kensington Oval in Barbados and providence in Guyana have shown that this fast-food cricket, as some have dubbed it, is a delectable dish regional cricket lovers are eager to consume.
Founder of the LCPL and head of Verus International, Ajmal Khan, is to be complimented for filling the void left after the demise of the Stanford experiment. An astute businessman who has made a habit of being at the forefront of successful ventures, Khan no doubt has seen the economic potential of T20 cricket for everyone involved.
Khan, in detailing the massive economic benefits of the tournament, has previously stated: “I have witnessed first-hand the resurgence and revitalisation of communities and even countries when new businesses and industries are introduced into their economies, particularly those with such global reach. I believe that the CPL will have a tremendous economic impact, not only for the six franchise countries but also for the entire region.
“Benefits include international and regional travel to and around the Caribbean, hospitality, entertainment, transportation, and shopping. There will be significant advertising and marketing revenue, as we plan to make the CPL the biggest party on the planet, which will result in a significant boost in local employment opportunities surrounding the events.”
Already the LCPL has been giving tourism snippets on the islands where the matches have been played so far and these have been beamed across the globe. The CPLT20 TV will feature the six franchise countries where the matches are being played, examining historic cricketing moments as well as other aspects of life in the individual territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. It is free exposure for which tourism ministries across the Caribbean would hardly be able to foot the bill.
Those who have followed the cricketing format in Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia, England, and India especially, can speak to its phenomenal success and accompanying financial spin-offs. Indeed, it is only the India Premier League that has started with the numbers and enthusiasm to match what has been witnessed over the past week of the LCPL.
A number of regional and international business entities have come onboard the LCPL, an eventuality that is necessary for the tournament to become a sustainable product. Khan is on record as stating that the region does not have the population numbers to be found in India and therefore partnerships were vital to make the tournament the success story which he envisioned.
In almost all the islands locally-owned companies have been showing an interest in getting on the LCPL train. Even American actor Mark Wahlberg has joined the LCpL and bought a major stake in the Barbados Tridents. We note, however, the glaring absence of major Barbadian-owned enterprises in the partnership mix.
But that is another story.