The so called Greatest Party in Sport begins again in the early hours of Thursday morning, UK time, when the 2018 season of the Caribbean Premier League gets underway. With the players assembled and the improvement in West Indies cricket in recent times this promises to be the best season of the tournament yet.
2017 – Trinbago Knight Riders
2016 – Jamaica Tallawahs
2015 – Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel
2014 – Barbados Tridents
2013 – Jamaica Tallawahs
The six sides play each other home and away in the competition in the regular stage although three of Jamaica’s matches will take place in America. At the end of the league phase the top two go into a straight qualifier for the final with the third and fourth placed sides going into an eliminator. The winner of that match meets the loser of the qualifier in the semi-final for the right to face the winner of the qualifier in the final. The champion is determined from that match.
The Trinbago Knight Riders begin the tournament as the favourites to defend their title successfully. They have the standout West Indian trio of Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Bravo while the likes of Javon Searles, Nikita Miller, Kevon Cooper and Denesh Ramdin are all good local players. Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Colin Munro and Shadab Khan set a decent overseas standard too and with the final being in Trinidad as well they look the ones to beat.
Jamaica Tallawahs have twice won this tournament and with Andre Russell in their ranks they will be expected to go strongly again. Their bowling attack looks good with Russell, Imad Wasim, Samuel Badree and Krishmar Santokie among others in it while there is plenty of power in their batting in the form of Johnson Charles, David Miller, Glenn Phillips and Ross Taylor. Don’t be surprised if we see the Jamaicans at the business end of this tournament.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots missed out on the title in the final 12 months ago but they look a much stronger unit this time with the likes of Ben Cutting, Mahmudullah, Tom Cooper and Sandeep Lamichhane in their ranks. Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis can rip any attack apart at the top of the order and with a couple of solid middle order players in Brandon King and Devon Thomas it would be no surprise if the Patriots go one better than last season.
The St Lucia Stars have been boosted by the signing of David Warner for this season. He joins a pretty powerful batting line up with the likes of Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy all local players who can hit a long ball a very long way. If there is a weakness in their side it comes in the form of the absence of a top quality spinner but if they can overcome that handicap they might yet be competitive.
Barbados Tridents look a good side this year too. They have lost Kieron Pollard from previous seasons which might account for why they are one of the outsiders in the competition but the likes of Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Roston Chase, Shai Hope and Dwayne Smith are all regulars in the West Indies team. Steve Smith, Wahab Riaz, Martin Guptill and Shakib-al-Hasan offer up solid overseas options as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Barbados are more competitive than the market suggests.
Guyana Amazon Warriors are the outsiders of the six even though the first round of the play-offs will be held in Guyana. They have lost Rashid Khan since last season which will have an impact on their performances but Imran Tahir is a decent replacement on a wicket which will turn throughout the competition. Nicholas Pooran is a special talent while Luke Ronchi, Cameron Delport and Sohail Tanvir will have some fun. Chadwick Walton and Devendra Bishoo aside, their home players don’t look the strongest set though which is a concern.
I think the Jamaica Tallawahs could be the ones to be with this season. I always look for two things in this tournament. Power in the middle and lower order with the bat and a couple of top class spin options and Jamaica have that covered.
With David Miller, Andre Russell and Rovman Powell the Tallawahs are loaded with brutal power in their middle order while Imad Wasim and Samuel Badree offer really classy spin options. Johnson Charles and Glenn Phillips are a decent opening pair and their home options are far from weak too. If there is a disadvantage it comes in playing half of their matches in America but if they can overcome that handicap they have every chance of going the distance this season.
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