One of the region’s biggest cricket names is behind a new competition.
Barbados’ only living national hero, Sir Garfield Sobers, has hailed the emergence of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League as crucial to the development of cricket in the Caribbean and has also given the thumbs up to Kieron Pollard leading the Barbados Tridents.
Sobers, a legendary former player, said Twenty20 is important to the commercial survival of the game and lauded the fact that the Caribbean now had its own league of which to boast.
“I think it is wonderful from the point of view that all around the world you have the Twenty20 game and it would be nice to have it in the West Indies,” said Sobers, 76. “You need it. You need Twenty20. If you didn’t have Twenty20, do you know how many counties in England would have gone out of cricket?
“When you look at the four-day games of cricket in England, you don’t have anybody there at all. When you look at a Twenty20 game, the ground is actually full, so they are making the money from that format of the game to help the four-day cricket.”
The competition is set to bowl off at Kensington Oval in Barbados on 30 July with a glitzy opening ceremony, followed by a super clash between the host team Barbados Tridents and the St. Lucia Zouks.
Tridents will then turn their attention to Antigua Hawksbills on 1 August before rounding off the triple-header with a much anticipated clash with Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel on 3 August.
Sobers, who led West Indies in 39 of his 93 Tests during an illustrious career, said he believed the franchise system would help to strengthen the bonds of regionalism.
“Let’s look at it from this point of view: they say that West Indies cricket is the only thing in the Caribbean that unites us. We’re all together. If you have a Trinidadian playing in Barbados, that’s OK.
“You can have Trinidadians playing for Barbados, you can have Jamaicans playing for Barbados, you can have Barbadians playing for Jamaica because there are no rules or limit on how much time they have to spend in an island before they play.”
To this end, Sobers was quick to endorse Pollard’s appointment as captain.
“If Pollard is playing for Barbados and he is the captain, I don’t see anything wrong with it. He is a Trinidadian who is playing for the Barbados franchise. If it was like the inter-territorial games in the past and he was playing for Barbados, well then, he became a Barbadian because he was playing for Barbados and that is a similar thing that is happening right now.
“I don’t see the big argument about it and all the fuss that is being made. All that matters is that he is a good enough captain and once he is good enough to captain I don’t see any arguments.”
The tournament, being organised in part by Cayman Islands-based company Kelly Holdings, will feature an array of Caribbean and international stars contesting 24 matches, played across Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago from 30 July to 24 August.
In all, 90 cricketers have been contracted to play, with each of the six franchise teams comprising 15 players. Barbados Tridents comprise of Pollard, Shoaib Malik, Shakib al Hasan, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Smith, Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Rayad Emrit, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Kyle Mayers, Devendra Bishoo, Kirk Edwards and Raymon Reifer.