Teams in this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League have voiced annoyance with a decision that seems to have given a slight advantage to the Trinbago Knight Riders ahead of the competition’s start on August 18.

The grievance appears to have been caused because local players from the TKR did not join the bio-secure bubble at the Hylton Hotel, continuing to train.

The first teams allowed to train were announced on Tuesday with the St Lucia Zouks and the Knight Riders getting the go ahead. According to a release from the CPL, local players had gone through the mandatory testing process and would this week enter the bubble.

“Everyone should have been part of the bubble from the first day to “guarantee” that the health and safety of all stakeholders is not “compromised”, read a social media post from Zouks skipper Daren Sammy.

"How can everybody else be in a bubble no access to training or practice games while others on the outside in a COVID infected area be training and playing practice games. Then allowed to join the bubble without self-isolation," read another from the Zouks skipper.

According to reports, defending champions, Barbados Tridents have also not taken kindly to the difference being shown to the local TKR players and asked why it was that all players from the franchise were not asked to enter the bubble and undergo the mandatory weeklong quarantine everybody else did.

But according to Michael Hall, operations director of the CPL, it was necessary to take precautions to ensure local players entering the bubble were not a threat to the environment’s bio-security.

The players and staff who are resident in Trinidad & Tobago who are coming into the CPL cohort have all tested negative for COVID-19 and will join the tournament bubble at the official hotel over the coming days.

The St Lucia Zouks squad and the members of the Trinbago Knight Riders squad, who travelled into Trinidad have tested negative for COVID-19 and they will begin training today, with other teams doing so in the coming days.

Results from further testing of all other members of the travelling cohort are expected today after a second round of testing on Monday.

“We have been extremely careful in how we have gone about introducing those who are resident in Trinidad & Tobago into the tournament bubble and these tests coming back negative is very good news for the tournament. We will continue to be vigilant to ensure the health and well-being of everyone, both inside the tournament bubble and the wider public,” said  Michael Hall, Tournament Operations Director.

The tournament gets underway on August 18 and will see 33 games played at two venues in Trinidad. The first match will be played on September 10.

 

With the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) set to begin in a matter of weeks, players like Rahkeem Cornwall have been looking at how to give themselves an advantage.

Cornwall is no different, with the big off-spinner hoping for a season like the one he had in 2019.

Known more as a bowling allrounder, last season Cornwall was immense with the bat for the St Lucia Zouks, scoring 254 runs in 10 matches, with a highest of 75.

“Obviously, it’s going to be different from the previous CPL where you have the crowd and so on, but at the end of the day cricket still remains the same. I would like to continue where I left off last year because I think I had a pretty good year in the CPL last year where I scored the most runs for the St. Lucia Zouks, and there is no doubt that I want to repeat that this year,” said Cornwall in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

According to Cornwall, players doing well is usually the result of hard work and he has no issue with putting in the effort that it takes to repeat that performance.

“I just have to put in the work and I think we have a couple of days or just over a week to get ready before the tournament, so I am sure I will be fine by then, and I will just keep putting the numbers on the board,” he said.

“As a professional, you have to know what you need to do to get yourself ready for a match. I think you just have to keep practising, and once all of the protocols [quarantine and testing] are over and you are out of isolation, then your mind would automatically switch back to cricket and you just have to know what you need to do in terms of your role for the team, and by then, hitting the 18th [August], you should be ready,” he said.'

Cornwall will again turn out for the St Lucia Zouks who will play their opening game against the Jamaica Tallawahs on August 19 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.

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.

 Darren Sammy, the captain of the St Lucia Zouks franchise believes Chris Gayle will be focussed and motivated for the new season set to begin on August 19.

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.

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.”

Daren Sammy will return as captain of the St. Lucia Zouks for the 2020 season.

The St Lucia Zouks have been sold to K.P.H Dream Private Cricket, a group of investors with extensive experience in high-profile cricket, the Caribbean Premier League has announced.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.