KINGSTON –– Following a rollercoaster performance last season, Mickey Arthur, coach of the Jamaica Tallawahs, is confident that the team has acquired enough firepower to regain the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 title.
The Tallawahs, who won the inaugural season in 2013 by defeating Guyana Amazon Warriors, failed to defend their title last year after suffering a disappointing ten-wicket defeat to the same opponent in the semi-final.
Prior to that, the Tallawahs won six of their nine group matches, including three home games, and led the tournament up to the last two group games.
The Chris Gayle-led team lacked sustainability in the middle-order of the batting line up, as much of the runs were scored by the captain himself and wicketkeeper-batsman Chadwick Walton at the top. Heavy reliance was also placed on the hard-hitting prowess of all-rounder Andre Russell, who had to salvage the pride of the team on a number of occasions.
However, Arthur believes that the team has strengthened all aspects of play ahead of the June 20 to July 26 tournament.
“We feel that we have strengthened the squad in every area that we felt we needed to, so we are very happy with the squad that we have at our disposal,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.
The veteran coach outlined that the experience and ability of former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene will be a major asset to the team. The 37-year-old Jayawardene, who recently retired from all international forms of the game, will join Australian Chris Lynn, New Zealander Daniel Vettori and South African Rusty Theron in the squad.
“I am really excited to get an international player of that quality joining the team, and being able to bat through those middle overs for us is huge. We were very excited when we signed Mahela; we signed him for that role, and we are really happy that we have him on board because we think he will do a really good job for us,” said Arthur.
“I think it is important that we keep improving; our chances are right up there and I think we will do well. If we play to the best of our abilities there is just no doubt about us winning the tournament, so I am just really excited and looking forward to it.
Arthur will join up with the team on June 11 before they head into camp on June 12.
“We have got our fingers on the pulse and making sure that these guys are all ready and prepared, so that when we get into camp they will be fit and ready to go,” said the South African.
The Jamaica Tallawahs will start their campaign against champions Barbados Tridents on June 23 at Kensington Oval. The biggest party in sport will then head to Sabina Park where the Tallawahs will contest three day/night games from July 7-12.
Squad: Retained players –– Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton; draft picks –– Mahela Jayawardene, Chris Lynn, Daniel Vettori, Nikita Miller, Krishmar Santokie, Rusty Theron, Narsingh Deonarine, David Bernard Jr, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, Horace Miller.