The 2014 edition of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League bowled off Friday with many new faces, including coaches. Five of the six sides have changed their men at the helm, including defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs who dispensed with Paul Nixon, who has been replaced by former South Africa and Australia coach Mickey Arthur.
Arthur, like the majority of the new coaches is an overseas recruit, is part of the CPL’s attempt to raise the level of expertise. But like his colleagues, he is already warming to the challenge of the CPL.
“It’s been fanatastic,” he said at the launch of the competition on Thrusday. Speaking of his team’s preparation, he noted that, “we’ve had a fantastic week in Kingston...We’ve had our overseas players with us through the last week. “Our local players were the basis of the team from last year...they’ve been good; they’ve certainly given the overseas players a really good welcome.”
The Tallawahs are also without spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, who has been replaced by former New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori this season. They opened their campaign yesterday against the St Lucia Zouks who disappointed in 2013 when they failed to reach the semi-finals.
New coach, Englishman Matthew Maynard is convinced the Zouks, who have made several changes to their squad, including the addition of opener Johnson Charles and Kevin Pietersen, will be in better rhythm this time.
“We’ve got stability at the top of the order. You need a good spine for Twenty/20 and our spine is a lot stronger this year,” he said. “We’ve got players in key positions right down the order. We weren’t in the party last year, we didn’t really fight as everyone would like to see teams fight; that’s something we’ll do a lot more this year I’m sure and we’ll enjoy the competition.”
The Red Steel, with Australian Simon Helmot on the bench, yesterday took on the Barbados Tridents, who are now under former Trinidad and Tobago player Robin Singh, who is based in India. Singh was with the Tridents outfit last season as assistant coach but Helmot at least has some local knowledge, having worked with Red Steel skipper Dwayne Bravo previously.
“I’ve known Dwayne for many years, he’s spent some time over in Australia with the side I coached over there.” Bravo played for the Melbourne Renegades coached by Helmot in this year’s Big Bash in Australia.
And speaking about the Red Steel squad for this season, Helmot added: “The majority of players we have are from last season but we think they’re a really strong base to work with. Ross Taylor (returning) and Nasir Jamshed are definitely going to compliment what will be a strong base.”
For Singh, the series is not just about getting a good result for his side. He sees a bigger picture. “I’ve been involved in the IPL and I think this is an ideal platform for people here to perform and to show their skills.
“West Indies has always been a place where we’ve had exciting cricketers, we’ve had exceptional cricketers and we’ve seen that in this form of the game as well, so I think it’s the right platform for people to excel and obviously from a team perspective, we’ve tried to stick to the people who we think can do the job for us.”