Off-spinner Ashley Nurse has backed the Barbados Tridents to repeat as champions of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League when the new season bowls off next month.
Nurse, a key component of the Tridents set-up, believes the unity in the camp, along with the balanced nature of the squad, will make the title-holders difficult to beat in the upcoming tournament, which runs from June 20 to July 26.
This year’s curtain-raiser features Tridents against Guyana Amazon Warriors, in a repeat of last year’s final, with Kensington Oval hosting three more matches in the opening week, against Jamaica Tallawahs, Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots. With sell-out crowds expected, Tridents fans are being urged to buy tickets early, at www.cplt20.com, to guarantee their place, watching the defending champions.
“We are always confident in the Tridents camp. The guys who select the teams – Robin Singh, Polly (Kieran Pollard) and the legend himself Desmond Haynes – always pick role players because they know what they really want before they go into the draft, so they pick certain players to fill certain positions,” Nurse said.
“As a result, I think this year the team is really well balanced, one of the best in the tournament, and equipped to take away the crown this year.”
Last season, the Tridents opened with a loss to The Red Steel, but rebounded to win three straight. However, they then lost two of their next three fixtures to be in danger of missing out on the playoffs.
With a big effort required, Tridents pulled together as a team to crush Red Steel and the Tallawahs in their remaining matches, and book their spot in the final, where they subsequently beat Guyana Amazon Warriors in an exciting contest at Warner Park.
“The Tridents team always thrives on team work – the idea of one team and togetherness – and after losing the first couple of games, the guys really came together and wrapped ourselves around each other,” the Barbados and West Indies player explained.
“As the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link. Everyone came together in one team effort and you would realise we beat three teams on the trot to lift the cup. We thrive on being a team so teamwork is always the key in the Tridents set-up.”
By his standards, Nurse had a relatively quiet season with just five wickets in nine matches. Crucially, however, his best performances came in back-to-back victories against Red Steel and Tallawahs.
He took one wicket and conceded just nine runs in three overs as Red Steel were routed for 105, and took two for 16 to help bowl Tallawahs out for 87.
The 26-year-old said he is focused on stepping up this season, both with the ball and bat.
“Last year I had a quiet CPL. I was one of the breakthrough players in the first edition so this year I just want to be as consistent as possible and get back to where I was in the first tournament, contributing as much as I can to help Tridents to retain the CPL title,” he stressed.
“Also, every time I come to the crease I believe I can get the job done with the bat. I don’t just pigeon-hole myself as just a bower, I believe that I am an all-rounder so when I get the opportunity with the bat, I just try to contribute as many runs as I can.”
The Limacol CPL features six franchises – Barbados Tridents, Jamaica Tallawahs, T&T Red Steel, St Lucia Zouks, Guyana Amazon Warriors and new boys St Kitts & Nevis Patriots – contesting 33 matches.