Caribbean sports fans get a double treat this summer because immediately after the World Cup concludes it’s the second staging of the Caribbean Premier League.
The tournament’s organizers claim that the 20-over cricket tournament combines two of the most compelling aspects of Caribbean life – cavalier cricket and a vibrant carnival atmosphere.
The inaugural CPL, billed as the “Biggest Party in Sport” featured six teams competing throughout the region last August – Jamaica Tallawahs, The Red Steel, Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St. Lucia Zouks, Antigua Hawksbills. The Jamaica Tallawahs, captained by Chris Gayle, were champions.
Other great T20 players, like Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels, will be creating excitement, as well as world-class players from other regions. including Englishman Kevin Pietersen
CPL II runs from July 11 to Aug. 16 and is backed by some of the greatest names in the sport’s history.
Sir Ian “Beefy” Botham and Brian Lara, along with media presenter Piers Morgan, teamed up with the Limacol Caribbean Premier League to announce Beefy’s Bash, an all-star charity T20 game at Warner Park, St.Kitts, on Aug. 12.
The match will bring together celebrity personalities, cricket legends and current stars, and will form part of an exhilarating week in St.Kitts, building up to the final four days later.
Botham and Lara are captains for the two teams, and have issued a call to arms to cricketing superstars, personalities and fans across the world to take part.
In spite of his chastening experience when heavily bruised from fast balls in the nets from Australian fast bowler Brett Lee over Christmas, Piers Morgan was the first to volunteer, and has been snapped up by fellow Englishman Botham.
Botham said, “I know how important cricket is to everyone in the Caribbean, and CPL has done a lot to reignite the region’s love for the game.
“St. Kitts is an amazing island of rare beauty, full of wonderful people, and I’m excited to give something back to the country through this charity match, as well as getting the chance to watch the closing stages of the CPL.”
Lara added, “I’ve seen first hand the impact CPL has had on the region. Players and fans love it, it’s great for our up-and-coming talent, and it provides an economic boost as well.
“I’ve always believed in the importance of giving back to the Caribbean, and this match will be a great way to do that. It’s going to be fun to play with and against some old friends and reignite some old rivalries, and I’ve already been contacted by plenty of fast bowlers keen to have a bowl at Piers!”
Damien O’Donohoe, CEO of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League and an executive with Digicel, said, “It was no surprise when Beefy got in touch about the game. The CPL is the biggest party in sport and as a result, we’re naturally attracting some of the leading names in sport and entertainment. Beefy’s Bash is set to be a remarkable highlight of finals week in St. Kitts and expect some more big names to be announced in the coming weeks.”
As well as the celebrity match, there will be a concert the night before the final, headlined by hip-hop superstar Rick Ross.
The multimillion selling rapper tops the bill at the concert at Warner Park Football Stadium. Miami-based Ross will bring yet more international star quality to the high-octane cricket tournament. Hollywood shareholders include actors Mark Wahlberg and Gerard Butler.
“Rozay” has scored five Number 1 albums in the U.S. and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Drake and fans expect to see him perform some of his biggest hits, including The Boss, Aston Martin Music and Nobody, from his latest album, “Mastermind.”
O’Donohue admits that after the success of CPL’s inaugural success will be hard to top but the organizers are doing their best.
“After the success of the first, I could never have imagined we would be getting this support and reaction this time,” he said. “Already, the media is placing us second only to the Indian Premier League. It should be great. Even [British actor] Jude Law says he wants to get involved.
“It’s easy to see why they all want to come to the Caribbean. Gerard Butler said the first CPL was the best 10 days of his year.”
Although the Jamaica Tallawahs are favorites again, O’Donohue feels that the teams are so evenly matched that it is hard to pick a winner. “St. Lucia have a really good team but it’s hard to bet on one because any team could win it.”
He added that mercurial Pietersen’s presence will add extra excitement and intrigue to the event.
O’Donohue is encouraging anyone in Cayman interested in attending to buy their tickets early because some matches will be sell out. He is pleased that the cheapest tickets are again only $8, making it easily affordable to attend and attractive for whole families to be there. He wants to see kids playing cricket on the beaches again like they did in the 1970s and ‘80s when imitating the great West Indies sides.
The organizers want to attract more women and youngsters. The fact that 40 percent of the fans last year were female was encouraging, O’Donohue said. Digicel also has a grassroots program to introduce children to the game.