West Indies World T20 champion Dwayne Bravo has issued a rallying cry to the Trinbago public to come out in numbers once more as reigning Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) champions Trinbago Knight Riders start their title defence at home against St Lucia Zouks on June 29.
Bravo, 32, is one of the world’s top Twenty20 all-rounders and played leading roles in both CPL and World T20 successes over the last year. In 31 career CPL matches to date, he has scored 452 runs (with a strike rate of 122.2) and has taken 47 wickets (including 28 last year) and was named the Man of the Series in last year’s competition after a string of outstanding performances.
In addition, to his 40 Test and 164 One-Day International appearances to date, Bravo has also featured in 61 T20 Internationals for the West Indies and was a key member of the 2012 and 2016 World T20 winning sides.
Bravo said that he was relishing the opportunity to lead the re-named side once more and hailed the acquisition of a trio of stars in Brendon McCullum, Hashim Amla and Sunil Narine, who could help his team maintain their dominance.
“It was a great feeling and a great atmosphere last year. Trinidad & Tobago is known as one of the most carnival-like atmospheres when it comes to cricket. We’re a very patriotic country where cricket is concerned and to play the finals in your home ground, and to also go on and win the finals, was a great achievement by the guys. The fans really get behind the team. We had a really good tournament last year, so we always enjoy playing at the Queen’s Park Oval, and last year the entire place was red and black. It was a crazy atmosphere. And to go out there and do it for the fans was very important, also because it was the first time for us to win the tournament was a great achievement,” he said.
Bravo added: “It’s good to always contribute through the tournament, especially when you win tight [games], you always want to note to yourself that you contributed heavily to your team’s success. Being the captain for the last three years, we got to the semi-finals, but we had never got to the final. Last year was a very good team achievement. The guys stuck together, we had a very steady team with the same (backroom) staff. It was good that I was able to perform well and lead my team to a final. But, you know, my success was only based on the other individuals. My younger brother (Darren) had a very good tournament, as did Jacques Kallis. The overseas players bring a different kind of professionalism towards the entire set-up, so collectively, as a team, we did well.”
Bravo expressed delight with McCullum’s acquisition.
“I’m very happy to pin down McCullum. He’s one of the world’s most dangerous players and a few years ago, when we were both playing for Chennai (Super Kings), I even asked him to come and play for Red Steel back then. Now the name has changed. He was part of the KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) family back in IPL and it’s good that he joined the TKR team. So I’m happy to be team-mates with him, also with Hashim Amla who is another great player.
Bravo was optimistic about the CPL venturing into the USA market.
“It’s been a while now that a lot of people have tried to get cricket associated with America. It’s good that CPL is taking that responsibility and taking it over there. Let’s see, hopefully we get good facilities and good conditions. It’s all well and good to say ‘Oh, cricket is in America’, but we need to have good facilities and the cricket needs to be good. And that’s the most important thing; that (the quality of) cricket is the selling brand, and that’s the selling brand of any sport. The guys are looking forward to it. It’s a great sport and let’s see how it goes.”
Trinbago Knight Riders: Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine, Hashim Amla, Umar Akmal, Darren Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Sulieman Benn, Colin Munro, Anton Devcich, Ronsford Beaton, Nikita Miller, Javon Searles, William Perkins, Yannick Cariah, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Hamza Tariq, Anderson Phillip
Trinbago Knight Riders Home Fixtures (all times local): 29 June – St. Lucia Zouks (9pm), 1 July – Barbados Tridents (9pm), 2 July – Guyana Amazon Warriors (9pm), 4 July – Jamaica Tallawahs (7pm).