Caribbean Premier League 2014: Profiling Every Team's Key T20 Player
With the second instalment of the Caribbean Premier League set to get underway on Friday, we take a look at the six franchises competing to get their hands on the Twenty20 crown next month and identify just who their key men are heading into the tournament.
And with a whole host of big-name stars from across the world having been drafted in April to feature in the competition, these are each teams’ most valuable player…
Antigua Hawksbills: Saeed Ajmal
Despite now being 36 years old, Saeed Ajmal is still widely regarded as the best spinner in world cricket, a view that has only been further strengthened of late by the wily Pakistan off-break bowler’s devastating displays for Worcestershire in the County Championship.
However, it is in the T20 arena where the Punjabi becomes even more of a threat—if that is possible—as opposition batsmen are required to take more risks against the mystery tweaker and his many variations, often with predictably disastrous consequences.
And even though Ajmal is currently at No. 4 in the International Cricket Council’s T20 bowling rankings, Antigua Hawksbills would not swap the player for anyone else.
Barbados Tridents: Dwayne Smith
Mercurial West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith really is a player who can blow hot and cold depending on his mood—and sometimes even in the space of the same over—so Barbados Tridents will be desperately hoping that they get to see the very best of the big-hitting opener during this year’s CPL.
The 31-year-old has the power and range of shots to take a game away from the opposition in the blink of an eye, although equally the Bajan is just as capable of giving his wicket up with a wild slog in the first over of the match.
So it will be intriguing to see which Smith turns up this summer, the player who has just failed with the bat in both T20 internationals against New Zealand, or the one who became the first man to score five half-centuries at a strike-rate of 136 in the 2014 Indian Premier League while starring for the Chennai Super Kings?
Guyana Amazon Warriors: Sunil Narine
Guyana Amazon Warriors will no doubt be fancying their chances of winning this season’s CPL due to the presence in their bowling lineup of mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine, a bowler who very few batsmen in the world game have been able to work out.
Narine, 26, has an incredible economy rate in international T20s of just 5.7 runs per over, while his mesmerising displays played a huge part in both of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ victorious 2012 and 2014 IPL campaigns, the former which ended with the Trinidadian being named Player of the Tournament.
And given that the No. 2-ranked T20 bowler in the world at present will know his home conditions inside out, while those surfaces in the Caribbean should also suit his type of bowling down to the ground, do not be at all surprised were Narine to inspire his franchise all the way to victory in the final in St Kitts on August 16.
Jamaica Tallawahs Squad: Chris Gayle
Jamaica Tallawahs have in left-handed opener Chris Gayle still one of the most destructive and feared batsmen in the world when it comes to this shorter form of the game, even if now aged 34 the player does not always hit those same heights on such a regular basis.
Having said that, however, the other five franchises in this year’s CPL will all be wanting to see the back of the Jamaican as quickly as possible, as this is someone who boats an intimidating strike-rate of 135 in his international T20 career so far.
And given that Gayle scored a sensational unbeaten 175 in the IPL only last year—the Royal Challengers Bangalore star reached his ton from just 30 balls—Jamaica know that with their inspirational skipper on board, they have every chance of retaining their trophy next month.
St Lucia Zouks: Kevin Pietersen
With Kevin Pietersen no longer playing international cricket for England following the termination of his central contract in February, the brilliant batsman made himself available to appear in this summer’s CPL, and St Lucia Zouks wasted little time in making the 34-year-old the very first player to be selected in the draft in April at a cost of $80,000.
That is because KP is box-office entertainment and still capable of winning a T20 contest by himself with his world-class batting abilities, as an impressive strike-rate of 141 in international T20s demonstrates.
And even though the South Africa-born star’s batting flattered to deceive while turning out for the Delhi Daredevils during the recent IPL, that will only make Pietersen even more determined to shine in this tournament—in a country he will remember fondly after being named Player of the Tournament in England’s World T20 triumph in the Caribbean in 2010.
The Red Steel: Dwayne Bravo
Red Steel skipper Dwayne Bravo is one of the most highly rated T20 players in the world, with the 30-year-old currently ranked as the ninth-best all-rounder by the ICC in this shorter format of the game.
In fact, the Trinidadian star would even be worth a place in his franchise’s starting lineup solely as either a batsmen or a bowler, such are Bravo’s eye-catching skills in both departments, which is what makes the player such a prized commodity.
And given Bravo’s big-hitting batting abilities and his vastly under-rated medium pacers—no one took more than his 32 wickets for the Chennai Super Kings in last year’s IPL—the West Indian will be without doubt his franchise’s MVP in this summer’s competition.