Kudos for CPL
THE home team may not be in tonight’s grand final but the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has made its mark on fans throughout the region and quickly established itself on the West Indies cricketing calendar.
An entity that was just a pipe dream less than a year ago has taken little time to grab the imagination of the public and ensure it will be no one-hit wonder, so those responsible should be commended for their initiative.
Ajmal Khan, head of Verus International, a wealth management organisation based in New York and Barbados, is touted as the founder of the CPL, with another international entrepreneur, Denis O’Brien of Digicel fame, getting involved in the early stages to ensure the success of the competition, which started with six teams.
Short and sweet may be the best way to describe the 2013 CPL, lasting just over three weeks, during which the matches have been contested in front of packed venues here in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua and St Lucia.
In fact, last Saturday, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua registered its first-ever sell-out since it was constructed for the 2007 World Cup.
The home-grown superstars have been spread amongst the half-dozen franchises and joined by top players from around the globe, competing in our own backyard at a level that was only previously seen on television in the hugely-successful Indian Premier League.
Adopting the tag line of the “ultimate cricket carnival”, the CPL has incorporated all the joie de vivre that has long been associated with the West Indies and which has attracted people from far and wide, coming to experience the unique atmosphere in this chain of islands.
That ability to party at the drop of a hat has been included in what has soon become the region’s premier entertainment format, with the internationally-renowned players—Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels—supported by mass marketing and even some Hollywood celebrities thrown in for good measure.
Mr Khan has encouraged his friends, movie stars Gerard Butler and Mark Wahlberg, to take an equity interest in the Jamaica Tallawahs and Barbados Tridents, respectively, in turn attracting a whole new fan base to cricket, which can do nothing but good for the sport.
Another commendable feature of the Caribbean Premier League is that some of the greatest players to ever don the Windies maroon colours have been involved in the competition as coaches and mentors, including Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Andy Roberts, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Curtly Ambrose.
And the greatest of them all, Sir Garfield Sobers, was among the full house at the Queen’s Park Oval on Thursday night, when the Guyana Amazon Warriors eliminated Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the first semi-final.
It was Barbados and Jamaica in last night’s semi and another interesting facet of the CPL is that players from all the islands are amongst the six franchises, which provides a rooting interest for every territory.
This can only augur well for the future, sustaining interest throughout the tournament.
So we congratulate the CPL organisers and wish them well as they promote the Caribbean in what is an exciting and innovative package.