T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) through its president Azim Bassarath praised the inspirational leadership of Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard for propelling the local franchise to the Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 championship which ended on Thursday with the final at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba, South Trinidad.
The TKR emphatically defeated the St Lucia Zouks by eight wickets with 11 balls to spare which maintained their unbeaten record in the month-long tournament and secured their fourth lien on the CPL trophy.
Bassarath, who described the victory as “a timely tonic for a weary nation currently grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted the sport and every aspect of our normal lives.”
He said that despite the fact that the entire tournament was played before empty stands at the BLCA, and the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain because of Government regulations, interest among fans was very high and at the end, the stunning CPL victory provided home fans with much to be pleased about.
“Our national psyche has taken a hit for the past six months as we come to grips with COVID-19 restrictions and the other negative fallout, but the TKR provided as with something to unite behind and in a manner showed that together we are really invincible against all odds,” said Bassarath.
The TTCB boss said Pollard, the West Indies white-ball team captain showed his undisputed qualities by leading from the front and he had the good fortune of having players of the calibre of the Bravo brothers (Dwayne and Darren), Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine, Akeal Hosein, Khary Pierre, Tion Webster who all played integral roles in securing the enviable regional franchise record.
Bassarath said throughout the tournament, TKR had absorbed the loss of key personnel with Colin Munro fracturing his hand, Ali Khan out of a few matches, while Narine had a minor medical procedure and did not play the final.
He said the record-breaking 12th win in the final was the best measure of how great a TKR squad Pollard and former New Zealand Test captain Brendon McCullum, team coach, have built without DJ Bravo bowling or Pollard batting.
The TTCB president sounded a cautionary note however in calling for a closer relationship between the CPL franchise owners and the territorial boards to ensure that the talent pool of regional T20 cricket is effectively refreshed to replace the current crop of stars when the time comes.
He said over the years the TTCB, and the other CWI members have been investing in the development of the regional cricket product and he recalled that prior to the CPL franchise tournament, the then West Indies Cricket Board successfully staged a regional T20 which spawned many of the top players in the present game.
And even before that, regional teams got the opportunity to show their wares in the Stanford T20 in Antigua when the shortest form of the game was now garnering popularity which then led to the ICC Champions League tournament in India.
Bassarath’s sentiments were an echo of similar comments made by Pollard and the St Lucia Zouks captain Darren Sammy in the pre-final media conference earlier this week.
Pollard said the TKR was fortunate to have several young players who have graduated into the senior ranks in this year’s CPL, but stressed that measures must be taken to unearth new talent with an eye on the future.
This point was also emphasized by Sammy who successfully captained two West Indies teams to ICC T20 World Cup crowns in 2012 (Sri Lanka) and 2016 (India). Sammy said that TKR was fortunate to have a system which has produced a stream of World-class cricketers but he worried about the other territorial boards which were not so endowed.