–Teams will need to seek cohesiveness after time away from training together
By Clifton Ross
WITH the 2020 Bio-secure Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) just a few days’ players will relish their time spent over the last few months training and staying fit during lockdown, but will be keen on gelling as a unit ahead of the August 18 start to the tournament.
All the franchises including their players and staff, along with the technical guys and a lot more have been in the Trinidad & Tobago ‘Bubble’ for more than a week now, settling in and adjusting to what will be their new lifestyle over the new few weeks.
A few days ago, the lid blew and whistleblowers, most notably Darren Sammy took to social media in order to air their views on what they felt was favoritism being shown to the local Trinidad players and those in the Trinbago Knight Riders franchise.
The allegations were that the local players were permitted to train and move around outside the ‘Bubble’ while other teams were relegated to their hotel rooms, thus having to adhere to social-distancing regulations.
With the local players having the edge to train and have match simulations and further familiarize themselves with the already accustomed conditions; means other players will now have to double up on the work they have been doing indoors recently.
It’s obvious that no amount of training in the next few days can erase the possible months of live preparation and team training which plays the most important role in freelance T20 cricket. Although franchises would have retained almost all their key pieces from last season, they have not gotten the opportunities to run scrimmages and try out their various combinations.
Also, with not that much overseas players to go around this season, spotlight and responsibility will be on the shoulders of the Caribbean stars. Again, it is possible that TKR will have an edge over most teams, despite a number of Trinidadian players being scattered around the various franchises.
The former champs have the key Trinidadian stars the likes of the Bravo brothers, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons; renowned T20 world-beaters. If those key players along with their overseas teammates managed to actually sneak in some type of work out and practice while their opponents were kept in the Bubble; then TKR’s gelling factor will outweigh that of the other teams.
Sizing up the odds, talent and form alone won’t get any team over the edge this season especially coming off of 5 months of no cricket and no time spent with coaches and teammates. Ironically, the gelling process could likely be smoother than it has ever been over the years.
With a minor influx of international stars this year due to the pandemic, acquaintances among the West Indian players could play a pivotal role for the franchises. Most, if not all the players involved in CPL this season are well-known to each other, either from playing for the West Indies or franchise teammates during Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) Regional senior season.
Coaches might see it a bit more strenuous, particularly those who might be coming in from overseas or might be coaching a specific franchise for the first time. But being stuck in the Bubble and not being able to practice could result in players bonding more off-field over the next few days.
That newer chapter of comradery could be the X-Factor team’s need when action starts, as player will be more comfortable with their new teammates while old mates will have time on their hands to formulate and strategize team tactics.
In all, it is expected that all players some having documented their time spent during lockdown, will be in the best playing shape physically after putting in sessions indoors.
Ideally, it will be left to see if teams are on the same page while cricketers should also be fully-healed from any injuries or niggles they may have been carrying prior to the pandemic running amok; making for one of the most intriguing CPL’s in history.