West Indies legend and Barbados Tridents ambassador, Desmond Haynes, believes the upcoming Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) could be the best edition of the tournament yet.
Citing the influx of overseas stars like South Africa’s Jacques Kallis, Sri Lankans Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga, along with Pakistani Shahid Afridi, Haynes said he was expecting fireworks this year in the 33 games scheduled to run from July 20th to July 26th.
“I believe this could be the best Limacol CPL, because looking at the teams I find that the teams are well balanced and all the teams are very competitive,” Haynes said.
“With those big stars coming to be a part of CPL I think it is good for the competition. Over the last couple of years, CPL has been very good in having some very balanced sides but as you know, cricket is played on the day.
“But looking at the teams on paper, you would think that this CPL will be the best one of the three.”
This year’s tournament will open with a repeat of last year’s final, when reigning champions Barbados Tridents clash with Guyana Amazon Warriors at the historic Kensington Oval.
The fixture is one of four heavyweight contests that will highlight the Barbados leg, with Tridents also facing 2013 champions Jamaica Tallawahs, last year’s semi-finalist Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel and new kids on the block, the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
Haynes, a key member of the Tridents set-up for the last two seasons, said the key to the quality of the CPL was the balanced nature of the squads.
“All the teams are very competitive. You may look at one or two teams that do have some big names but a lot of the teams have good units and play together,” he pointed out.
“Take the Tridents for example, if it is one thing you can say about us is that we always play together, we gel well and everybody likes the leader. Polly (Kieron Pollard) has an influence on the team which makes everybody happy to be around him and we’ve got the senior players that don’t matter what you ask of them, these guys are willing to do it for the team.”
Tridents have seen the likes of Shakib al Hasan, Raymon Reifer and Kyle Mayers move on, but have retained the core of their side, with senior players Jason Holder, Dwayne Smith and Shoaib Malik all set to feature.
They have also drafted in Sri Lankan Dilshan Munaweera, South African Justin Ontong and local boy, Shai Hope, a combination Haynes believes will be very effective.
“We’ve also got some exciting young players in our midst, fellows who are interested in making sure that we retain the trophy and so far, looking at the Barbados Tridents, they look like they will be a force to be reckoned with even though some of the other teams have been strengthened with some big names,” Haynes said.
“We have Munaweera who is a very exciting opening batsman, and seeing him and Dwayne Smith opening the batting this season could be very exciting for crowds around the Caribbean. We’ve lost one or two players but we’ve got the likes of Shai Hope and we still haven’t seen the best of Jonathan Carter even though he did very well for us in the Champions League last year.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in our side but in T20 cricket you need that big of luck and you need to play together. You also need to think long and hard about how you’re going to go about your game so the planning is very important.”
CPL begins in Barbados at 6 pm on Saturday, June 20th under lights at Kensington Oval.