Jamaican cricket fans in the Cayman Islands are still celebrating their win over the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the inaugural final of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League.
The month-long tournament was a total success, ending with the Jamaica Tallawahs winning by seven wickets comfortably at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad on Saturday.
Chris Gayle, the captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, credited all-rounder Andre Russell for his contribution to Saturday’s win.
“Russell has been fantastic throughout,” Gayle said. “He has been working on his striking and he comes through for us almost every time. I really hope he’s in the next West Indies squad.”
Gayle won the Man-of-the-Match award for his uncharacteristically subdued 47 not out off 48 balls.
Gayle also felt he had answered critics who claim he gives away his wicket too easily. “I am happy I batted through the innings, and as captain, because this was the most important CPL match we played,” Gayle said. “I wanted to silence my critics and I believe I did!”
Many Jamaica fans watched the final on TV at Welly’s Cool Spot in George Town. One of them was Robert Drysdale who said, “One of the good things the Caribbean Premier League introduced was that all the teams had to have six West Indies players aged under 23, which helps local talent to develop.
“This is beyond our dreams, because nobody expected the CPL to take off the way it has. It is an excellent thing for the region and I take my hat off to Jamaica because when the matches were played at Sabina Park during the day because it does not have floodlights, tickets were sold out. Hats off to the organizers and this thing will just get better.”
Rhuel Smith is a Jamaican who has lived here for many years. He is an umpire with the local cricket association and also teaches many sports at John A. Cumber primary school in West Bay.
“The introduction of the CPL was exciting and a good move by the sponsors,” Smith said. “It brings life into the cricket and the Caribbean people were longing for this because they were losing interest in West Indies cricket.”
Smith is a big fan of Gayle and Russell and when he heard that Kumar Sangakkara, the brilliant Sri Lankan batsman, was joining the Tallawahs, he was convinced they could win the tournament, although the Warriors had beaten them twice in earlier matches.
“When Tallawahs restricted Guyana to only 128 runs, I thought we would be safe, because I expected Gayle to play a captain’s innings and he did that,” Smith said.
“The Warriors have the best bowling attack so Jamaica were restricted and cautious. They didn’t want to give away their wicket, especially Gayle. You’ve never seen Gayle bat throughout without hitting a six. He was very controlled.”
The person who impressed Smith most in the bowling was Krishmar Santokie, who was the tournament’s leading wicket taker and had the best average.
“And in the batting we have some real talent, like Russell and Shoaib Malik the Pakistani who played for the Barbados Tridents,” said Smith. “Lendl Simmonds batted well too and there were others that impressed me in some games, like Chadwick Walton.”