Jamaica Tallawahs CEO Jeff Miller said batsman Andre McCarthy is devastated that he will not be able to play in the 2020 CPL season that begins in Trinidad later this month.

I’m a Chelsea fan.

Now that is not a popular thing to be in my native Jamaica but I’ve been one since 1995, some 25 years ago.

I was not a fan of what used to be English football and at the time, the only team in the Premier League with any international flavour was Chelsea.

Chelsea boasted a squad with one English starter in Dennis Wise and were the only team in England that played with the type of flair I had grown up seeing from my father’s team of choice, Brazil.

Arsenal had not yet become the free-flowing team it became popular for and Manchester United, though winners, were not a target of my fancy.

But Chelsea, for all their beautiful football, were a mid-table team at best.

When they started to win, courtesy of an injection of cash from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, they lost some of that flair.

Players like Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit and Gustavo Poyet were no longer there and Jose Mourinho had turned the team into something resembling a machine that built cars to exacting specifications. Still I delighted in their success. Now they’re losing again and cannot seem to compete with the might of the Manchester Cities and Liverpools of this era. They have returned to playing with some flair but I cannot be completely happy with all the changes they have made to date.

But I will likely remain a Chelsea fan for the remainder of my time on this planet.

The same is true of the Jamaica Tallawahs. I fell in love with the Tallawahs much, in the same way, I fell in love with Chelsea.

I understood franchise cricket in much the same way I did club football and would have chosen any of the six teams in the CPL to be ‘mine’.

But just as I became a fan of the way the dread-locked Gullit would marshall his midfield and later Zola would turn a game on its head with a moment of brilliance, I could not get enough of big-hitting innings from Chris Gayle.

It was for this reason and this reason solely that I became a fan of the Tallawahs but I cannot now abandon them because, just as in club football, franchise cricket will witness changes.

And there have been a myriad of changes to the Tallawahs since the start of the Hero Caribbean Premier League, some seven years ago.

Now, there is no Chris Gayle, and the latest squad seems a far cry from the exciting days of the big left-hander smacking balls onto the roof of the North Stand at Kingston’s Sabina Park.

Still, I will remain with the Tallawahs as any true fan of a team should.

And maybe, despite the many changes, this Tallawahs line-up has a chance.

They do have more balance than they have had in recent years.

For a while, the Tallawahs batting was their strength but they had to bat teams out of games. Whenever they failed to get more than just a competitive score, they were certain to lose. In fact, I think they have the ignominy of sporting some of the highest losing totals in the competition's history.

This year may be different.

Fidel Edwards is an experienced fast bowler, who, along with the pace of Oshane Thomas, could pose some problems for their opposition in the league.

The Tallawahs also have something they have been missing for a few years now as well. An incisive spinner. Tabraiz Shamsi is the type of slow bowler the Tallawahs may just need. A left-arm wrist spinner, Shamsi is aggressive, with his 19.8 strike rate suggesting he will take wickets in the middle overs where the Tallawahs have been found wanting over the years.

Allrounder Carlos Brathwaite can provide both batting and bowling for the Tallawahs on the odd occasion, while Veerasammy Permaul can also do a job.

Now, I wouldn’t venture to pick the Tallawahs line-up but they have last season’s leading runscorer for them, Glenn Phillips, who should partner Chadwick Walton. The two can be explosive and put any team on the back foot. In the middle order, there is exciting Pakistani batsman, Asif Ali, as well as the power of Rovman Powell and Andre Russell. On a given day, any of those names can hurt an opposition, but there is the question of consistency.

That question has plagued the Tallawahs for years even though they have won the CPL twice.

But on those two occasions, they had Chris Gayle and even though he may not have been the man to provide the finals-winning performances, he did come up with innings of real class that helped them in getting through the season.

Last season the Tallawahs finished last and it is no surprise that Gayle had a poor run throughout.

Without him, the Tallawahs seem less dangerous, but I am still rooting for them. They’re my team and seem more balanced than ever before, even without the mighty Chris.

Coming out of Monday’s 2020 Hero CPL Draft, Jamaica Tallawahs CEO Jeff Miller believes the franchise has managed to assemble a balanced team that will be able to do some damage when the competition gets underway in Trinidad in August.

The two-time champions endured a disastrous season in 2019 when they won only two games and finished at the foot of the six-team standings. With the disaster behind them, the Tallawahs decided on a complete overhaul of the squad that included releasing veteran T20 batsman Christopher Gayle while retaining only five players from the previous campaign.

In Monday’s draft, the Tallawahs brought in 2016 T20 World Cup hero Carlos Brathwaite and the big-hitting Glen Phillips to complement Captain Rovman Powell, Andre Russell and Chadwick Walton. They have also added Nkrumah Bonner and Andre McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Fidel Edwards, Veerasammy Permaul, Sandeep Lamichhane and Preston McSween have bolstered the bowling.

“I am hoping that we have a better team. We were rebuilding and that was the whole idea,” Miller told Sportsmax.TV on Tuesday.

“After retaining the five we were looking to rebuild around them.”

Miller explained that they brought in Edwards, the former West Indies pace bowler, to partner young fast bowler Oshane Thomas and McSween to support them both. Right-arm leg-spin bowler Sandeep and Permaul, he said, add a cutting edge to a bowling attack that he expects to be effective on the pitches in Trinidad.

“We expect the pitches to be bowler-friendly,” Miller said, indicating that he believes the pitches in the twin-island republic to wear as the tournament progresses.

Miller is also hopeful that the Tallawahs’ batting will deliver this coming season. He is relying on the experienced Powell, Russell, Phillips and Walton to get the bulk of the runs but in Brathwaite and the returning Andre McCarthy, he is expecting additional stability and firepower.

Brathwaite, he believes, can “do damage” at the back end of the innings but further up the order is where he expects McCarthy to finally deliver on his potential. “I am hoping that McCarthy and Nkrumah Bonner can solidify the number-three slot. I am hoping that a maturing McCarthy can step up to the plate,” he said.

Without going into detail, Miller hinted that they might have missed out on some players they were hoping to sign but those players were drafted by other franchises before the Tallawahs had a shot at them.

 

The St Lucia Zouks have confirmed that Chris Gayle has opted out of the CPL, 24 hours before the 2020 Draft is scheduled to take place.

With a focus on rebuilding for the 2020 CPL season, the beleaguered Jamaica Tallawahs franchise has opted to retain four players including star player Andre Russell for the new season.

On this week’s episode of ‘The Commentators’, Donald Oliver and Ricardo Chambers are discussing Chris Gayle like everybody has.

The Tallawahs management this week rejected Chris Gayle’s attack on them over his exit from the CPL franchise but the Jamaica-based entity is doomed to failure if the fans don’t buy their story.

Gayle labelled Assistant Coach Ramnaresh Sarwan a "snake", "vindictive" and "despicable" as he ripped into retired Guyana and West Indies batsman and the “politics” he said triggered his departure from the Tallawahs.

On the ropes after Gayle’s verbal blows, the Tallawahs issued a terse press release that was too tame to be taken seriously, then stiff jabs by Andre Russell and Sarwan’s Gayle rebuttal 24 hours later hurled the issue into more confusion.

The Tallawahs top brass says omitting Gayle from the Tallawahs 2020 CPL roster was made purely on business and cricketing reasoning but the “business” reasoning seems seriously flawed.

Sabina Park attendance is critical to the franchise’s commercial success and we’ve already seen how unattractive a Gayle-less Tallawahs is to Jamaican fans. Not to mention the possibility of a calculated match boycott in solidarity over any perceived disrespect of a local star, as we’ve seen before in Caribbean cricket.

In April 1992, Barbadians pointedly shunned the historic one-off Test at Kensington Oval against South Africa because an anticipated debut was not given to local boy Anderson Cummins, who at that time enjoyed probably a mere 5% of the immense popularity Chris Gayle commands in Jamaica.

Gayle was visibly hurt in his YouTube outburst as he lashed the Tallawahs and Sarwan.

It was, to me, an unprofessional display by a giant in modern-day cricket but the new age of communicating with fans probably made it easy for him to go that route. His rant though, not only badly tainted his ex-West Indies teammate Sarwan but also soiled Chris Gayle and cricket’s image.

The Jamaica Tallawahs were – based on Gayle’s account – hugely at fault for not communicating with him honestly that they weren’t interested in retaining him for the 2020 season and absolutely nothing in the Tallawahs’ press release refuted Gayle’s charge that CEO Jeff Miller and Owner Krish Persaud failed to inform him that he was not in their plans for the upcoming season.

Gayle, now 40 years old, felt betrayed by an organization that gave him their word and went back on it. Gayle made only a passing mention of this, but it’s also instructive that Miller chose to speak directly with Gayle instead of the standard route of going through his agent.

It is very easy for me to deduce that the Tallawahs’ request – according to Gayle – to take not one or two but three pay cuts, may have been a strategy to frustrate him away from the franchise since they were not brave enough to confront the big-hitting superstar-about releasing him from the deal.

I understood fully the Tallawahs being “disappointed” over the way Gayle went public and I agree with their position to “much rather have had these discussions in private” but that is under normal circumstances and clearly Gayle did not consider the circumstances normal. He felt he was dealing with a group that he could no longer trust.

Did this Jamaican franchise ever consider that Gayle would have needed time to pursue other options if he knew he wasn’t with them? It was on deadline day that Gayle said he was called, not by the Tallawahs, but by a CPL official who did not see his name on the list!

Because of Gayle’s monumental record as a T20 batting star and crowd puller, the St Lucia Zouks snapped him up immediately. Gayle could have been left out-of-contract for the 2020 season because of the Tallawahs’ non-communication.

I am not interested at this point in addressing Gayle’s scathing and toxic references to his “former” friend Sarwan, nor the rebuttal coming from the 39-year-old Guyanese that he had no part in “the decision or the decision-making process” in not retaining Gayle. A lot was said in the narrative from both men and at this stage, it’s one man’s word against the other. Both very wounded by actions of the other. Cricket lost in that exchange.

I became aware very early in my career as a broadcast journalist that while fans worship sporting heroes because of the unbridled joy they generate, these successful men and women on the field of play are human beings like us.

They have imperfections, character weaknesses and limitations that adoring fans will hastily gloss over in standing behind them in times of controversy.

The Jamaica Tallawahs may have been in a position regarding Gayle as some Big Bash and IPL franchises had reached, where his stocks had declined over time, so Gayle being at a crossroad in franchise T20 cricket is not new. He had not been a part of Australia’s Big Bash since 2016 and his IPL standing had been shaken ahead of the 2018 season.

Gayle’s career had been highlighted by some tremendous seasons with Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, including 2012 when he topped the IPL’s batting charts with 733 runs at an awesome 61.80 average and 2013 when he averaged 59.0. But after two moderate seasons, 2016 and 2017, when he averaged a mere 22.7 and 22.2, RCB were no longer interested and he almost went unsold ahead of the 2018 IPL campaign.

The King’s XI Punjab bought him and he showed in 2019 he still had shots to fire with a 40.83 average.

As a privately owned franchise, The Jamaica Tallawahs has to make its own decisions. Under Chris Gayle’s leadership last year, the team played very poorly and finished last with eight defeats in their 10 games. He averaged a moderate 24.30 and his 243-run tally was No.2 on the Tallawahs batting list behind the New Zealander Glen Phillips (374).

By Gayle’s own admission, there was turmoil in the camp as referenced in his caustic YouTube address admitting that he “flipped” in a “very heated meeting” ahead of the last CPL game that “almost got physical”, clear signs there of a dysfunctional team setting. The scale of the clash with Gayle suggesting players were “making fun of the Universe Boss” and mocking him “in front of the younger players” could be interpreted as team damage that’s irreparable.

So, If the Jamaica Tallawahs managers believe that going forward without Gayle is a step toward rebuilding, it is their right, but it should have been done professionally, certainly more skillfully given what Gayle represents to Jamaican cricket fans.

The current world leader in T20 cricket Andre Russell has also jumped in, accusing the Tallawahs of poor communication while angrily announcing he is quitting the franchise after the upcoming season scheduled to start in August.

The CPL has been sold to the Caribbean public as an event with huge economic benefits potentially to the territories, but the truth is that team owners have been struggling over the years and the Tallawahs are heading for even tougher times.

This is not to suggest that the Tallawahs franchise cannot flourish without Gayle because he would have to go at some point, but Gayle’s absence has negatively affected CPL attendance at Sabina Park in the past and that effect would be escalated if the fan perception is that the T20 batting Phenom was disrespected by the Tallawahs owners and management.

Ramnaresh Sarwan has vehemently denied having anything to do with the Jamaica Tallawahs’ decision not to retain for the upcoming 2020 Hero CPL and that he encouraged the Tallawahs’ overseas players to disrespect him.

The Jamaica Tallawahs have claimed that the decision to not retain Chris Gayle for the 2020 CPL season was strictly business.

The Jamaica-based Hero CPL franchise on Wednesday refuted claims made by Chris Gayle on Monday, that politics and Ramnaresh Sarwan were behind their decision to let Gayle leave for the St Lucia Zouks for the coming season.

Gayle, in a series of videos posted on Youtube on Monday,  suggested that Sarwan, his former West Indies teammate, turned management against him. He said when he refused to back Sarwan’s bid to become team manager, Sarwan sought payback. Gayle called Sarwan a snake and said he was worse than the Coronavirus.

Gayle also said he believes that accepting an invitation from Guyana’s Minister of State Joe Harmon in 2018, also played a part in the decision to let him go.

However, in a statement released early Wednesday, the Tallawahs said Gayle’s comments were far off base and that they are only focussed on rebuilding a team that disappointed during the 2019 season.

“The ownership and management of the Jamaica Tallawahs was disappointed to see the comments made by Mr Christopher Gayle about his departure from the Tallawahs, as we would much rather have had these discussions in private,” the statement said, explaining that Sarwan did not play a role in any decision affecting the self-styled ‘Universe Boss’.

“Mr Gayle gave several reasons for the decision that was made not to retain him in the Tallawahs. However, the truth is that this decision was made collectively by the ownership and management team, which did not include Mr Ramnaresh Sarwan, and based purely on business and cricketing reasoning.”

The Tallawahs also dismissed Gayle’s claim about him being targeted because of perceived political connections.

 “Further, the ownership and management of the Tallawahs have no political affiliation with any political organization in any country of the Caribbean,” the statement said.

“The Tallawahs had a very disappointing season in CPL 2019, where the team finished last in the tournament. The ownership and management team has exercised its rights in the selection of players for CPL 2020 for the betterment of the team.

“The ownership and management of the Tallawahs will not be making any further comment on this matter as we are focusing on building the team for the future.”

The 2020 season of the CPL will be the last for Andre Russell with the Jamaica Tallawahs.

On the eve of his 32nd birthday, Russell, perhaps the most dangerous player in T20 cricket globally, in a rambling speech on Instagram Live on Tuesday night, accused the team’s ownership of poor communication and continued disrespect that helped create the impression that he was part of a conspiracy to get rid of Chris Gayle.

“I have another year’s contract with the Tallawahs and I am going to play and try and win because that is all I play for, but this will be my last because I have been getting mixed up with all these (expletive) that is happening,” he said, “and I can’t be playing cricket and I am not comfortable.

“And I think another franchise that has been coming last and fifth and fourth in CPL will appreciate me more. I am not getting it here.”

Russell revealed that he only heard about Chris Gayle’s departure from the team when the Universe Boss sent him a copy of a report in the Jamaica Gleaner that suggested that Gayle was not going to be retained by the two-time CPL champions and that there were going to changes to the coaching staff.

Rovman Powell was to be made captain.

That information, when combined with recent statements from Marlon Samuels suggesting that Russell must have known about Gayle's departure and Chris Gayle's subsequent comments, gives the impression that he knew what was going on behind the scenes at the Tallawahs when nothing could be further from the truth.

He said in 2019, he was not involved in anything with regards to the Tallawahs whom he said treated him like a player who was making his debut and whose opinion is not valued.

This is despite his decision to play for much less money because he wanted to play before his home fans. “I have accepted a pay cut just to play in front of my home crowd, my family and my friends,” he said.

This year, nothing has changed, Russell said.

“They communicated with my agent. My agent agreed. I agreed with my agent, ‘okay, let we sign’. The only time the CEO (Jeff Miller) or the only time the Jamaica Tallawahs contacted me was to ask me how soon will I sign,” he revealed. “The deadline is that time and can you sign please.”

Russell said when he asked who the team planned on retaining he did not get answers. “Who you guys planning on buying, I don’t get no answers on that. So I just leave it,” he said.

He said he read the newspaper report before he called Gayle and it made him nervous when it said that Floyd Reifer was going to be the head coach.

Reifer had messaged him, he said, indicating that he might be the head coach for the Tallawahs and mentioned plans they have for the upcoming season. However, Reifer suddenly ceased all communication and Miller still was not communicating with him.

During that time, Russell said, rumours began to circulate that Gayle was leaving for the Zouks.

He said his respect for Gayle made him fearful to even approach the ‘Universe Boss’ about whether the rumours were true. So when Gayle messaged him with the newspaper article asking if he knew anything about it, he was stunned.

“I called Chris instantly and I addressed the situation. I said to Chris that the only thing I heard was that Floyd Reifer was potentially going to be the coach.”

However, Russell believes that the fact that Rovman Powell and Reifer are friends and the perception that he knew what was going on behind the scenes, it creates the impression that he was part of a conspiracy to get rid of Gayle.

“Up till now I know nothing that was going on but now it looks like me, Rovman and Floyd Reifer plan up and a get of Chris. Why would I get rid of Chris? Chris has a three-year contract, you’re not supposed to breach your contract,” he said. “I had to address the situation because things don’t look good right now.”

However, this was something Russell said that was a feature of the ownership from the start.

He said when he signed to the Tallawahs in 2018, he had just returned from a one-year ban. The ban was for whereabouts violations after he had missed three doping tests within a calendar year, which under the WADA Code is equal to a doping violation.

He was made captain but, according to Russell, “the way they go about things kinda allowed me to dress back a bit”.

He said when he was made captain he gave the owners a list of the players that he wanted them to sign for the team.  “Overseas players, local players, players from inside the Caribbean. It wasn’t about friends. It wasn’t about Jamaicans,” he said. “I am a guy that plays to win and I have won 13 championships, maybe the only player that has done that, so I don’t play to lose.”

He said he tried to reach out to the owners on the day of the draft and got no reply. However, when the draft was completed they reached out and asked him if he was happy with the team they selected.

He said it took him a while to reply because he was disappointed that they did not communicate with him when he reached out to them. However, his agent urged him to reach out to them and indicate that he still wanted to be captain and that he was happy with the draft.

He concedes that they did pick a good team but it lost in the playoffs to St Kitts and Nevis.

However, Russell believes the owners of the Tallawahs need to change if they are to remain viable.

“We have to do things better for the future,” Russell said, who seemed genuinely disappointed and upset about what transpired between Gayle and Jamaica Tallawahs.

“To deal with Chris Gayle the way that they have dealt with the situation is nothing to do with cricket. It’s more personal.

 “This is going to be an awkward dressing room. It’s going to be an awkward CPL but no one will actually see that when I step out to bat or to bowl while I am on the field because I play to win.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An angry Chris Gayle has described Jamaica Tallawahs Assistant Coach Ramnaresh Sarwan as a snake and a backstabber in a series of videos in which he explains the reasons behind his move from the Jamaica Tallawahs to the St Lucia Zouks for the 2020 CPL season.

Legendary Windies batsman Chris Gayle is expected to suit up for the St Lucia Zouks in the upcoming edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), having recently not being retained by Jamaica Tallawahs.

The 40-year-old batsman had a rough campaign in a forgettable season for the franchise of his birth country.  Gayle managed 243 runs in 10 matches, second behind Tallawahs scoring leader Glenn Phillips' 374, but one of those matches featured his tournament-high score of 116, registered early on against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. 

The player, who averaged 24.30, failed to get any 50s for the tournament.  Gayle, who led the franchise to title at the 2013 and 2016 editions, had only returned to the Jamaica franchise last season, having left to join the Patriots in 2017.  His return was not a happy one, however, as the team slumped to 8 losses and only managed two wins in a last-place finish.

In February, KPH Dream Cricket Private Limited, Kings XI Punjab's parent company, purchased the St Lucia Zouks franchise and appointed Andy Flower as head coach. Gayle currently plays for Kings XI in the IPL.  The team will be captained by former West Indies T20 captain Darren Sammy, who was pleased to have Gayle on board.

"This is great news for St Lucia Zouks and for me as a captain to have the 'Universe Boss' on my side," Sammy said.

“Chris is one of the most successful T20 batsmen in the world and with his experience with our young openers, a lot can be learned from Chris.”

The Jamaica Tallawahs are planning changes amidst an overhaul to the team that finished at the bottom of the CPL table last season.

Shemar Edwards and Kirk McKenzie, two emerging young cricketers from Jamaica's Kingston Cricket Club were on Monday beneficiaries of full player kits from the Caribbean Premier League franchise, the Jamaica Tallawahs.

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