CALYPSO CRICKET KEEPS ROLLING in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL)
July 3, 2016 – by Dave Martins – Credits Stabroek News
In early June 2016, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) was back with us as the matches begun at Warner Park in St. Kitts, and the second one, with Guyana’s Amazon Warriors meeting the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots, was a thriller. Guyana put the Patriots in to bat and ended up needing 30 runs from the last three overs for the win. In the end, Jason Mohammed hit the two runs needed for the win on the second-to-last ball off a very difficult dropped catch by duPlessis.
The CPL, which is reportedly drawing considerable attention worldwide, seems to be picking up where it left off last year, with an array of international names sprinkled among the teams in the tournament and that mix, adroitly combined by the organisers with the attractive ingredients of Caribbean culture, has created an event that is attracting a range of patrons, including tourists, as well as various prominent sponsors.
The Warriors/Patriots clash offered a good microcosm of what the CPL is about with vibrant and exciting cricket on the pitch, soca music and carnival costumes on the sidelines and in the stands, the usual inter-island figures, plus some selected contests and competitions revolving around the matches. One of the latter in the St. Kitts game was a US$500 bonus for the person in attendance with the “most colourful” outfit. That last item is a clear demonstration of the transformations that have come to cricket, albeit to the horror of many purists, with the arrival of the T20 format of the game; imagine a session at Lord’s with a costumed spectator at the match winning 500 Sterling simply for how he/she is dressed? W. G. Grace has to be churning in his grave.
Like it or not, our radically changed way of life in recent years, with technology turning societies upside down and shifting values dramatically in the process, has also come big-time to sport, and the trend, as it is always is with such shifts, will be ever upward. Notice the shifts in US basketball, with the now more dexterous point guards in the NBA, the explosion in three-point shooting, once scoffed at as “showboating”, and the disappearance of the big man planted under the basket (a la Shaquille O’Neal) to repel attackers; it’s a different game. Notice too, the obvious fall away that has happened in boxing in contrast to the sensational popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) where fighters kick, elbow, and even apply choke holds and arm bars to force opponents to submit.
This very week, as the prestigious Wimbledon tournament is starting to engage tennis fans, we have the controversy over the new abbreviated costumes of the female players that the major companies in sportswear are asking the athletes to wear. Obviously, it can be argued, and it has been, that the impetus is big business in search of ever more profits, but it is also obvious that this speeded-up, short attention span, colourfully-costumed game, with hijinks and displays on the sidelines and in the stands, is what the fans want. Traditionalists who want things as they used to be will have less and less company every day.
Television is a key ingredient in this new presentation of cricket that has come to the fore, and in that regard the CPL, despite its good start, has made some puzzling decisions including the one to import almost all of the on-air presenters from Australia and New Zealand. In a time when you are vociferously promoting the “calypso carnival cricket” of the Caribbean, why do you then have these imported accents describing the action, and attempting to describe a culture about which they (Mike Haysman excepted) clearly know very little? A certain high-strung bald-headed individual (I don’t know his name and don’t need to) is probably the worst offender.
Speaking in a thick Australian(?) accent, and using colloquial phrases of his own, he is often unintelligible to Caribbean audiences, and he approaches embarrassing when venturing into cultural explanations. He refers to a group of St. Kitts performers as a “steelband” when what is actually before him is actually a rhythm section with not one pan in sight. Perhaps he was confused by the presence of a 50-gallon metal drum in the group, but any Kittitian school-boy could have told him it was there for accompaniment ; the top of the drum was obviously broken and was being used merely for percussion.
On another occasion I was thrown by his reference to “pliers” and “ghyme” until I realized he was talking about “players” and “game”. We had a lady announcer assigning Barbadian citizenship to the Trini Rayad Emrit. Come on CPL. We have accomplished and polished announcers such as Darren Ganga (his knowledge of the game and of international players’ abilities is unique) as well the likes of Michael Holding, Ian Bishop, Barrie Wilkinson, Jeffrey Dujon, and others. Let’s cut down on the broadcast gaffes.
On the other hand, aside from the announcers, and one strange decision where a Guyanese player was given out when replay showed it had come from a no-ball, the game was riveting. Chasing the Patriots total of 164, the Bajan Dwayne Smith had set Guyana up nicely with a blistering 62 off 36 balls to get us to the halfway point. Things got dicey after he was out, with the Sri Lankan Shamsi being the pick of the Patriot bowlers, keeping the batsmen guessing with his variations, and Santokie was always a threat, but the runs kept coming, including a 42 off 29 from Jason Mohammed. Tension was still there though; with only 3 overs left, Warriors needed 30 runs to win.
Jason Mohammed, who ended up the not-out hero, was at the wicket with 2 runs needed for the win and 2 balls left to be bowled. As the tension wound tighter than a cello string, he mistimed a boundary attempt giving a very difficult chance to a lunging duPlessis who grassed it, and Guyana was home free with just one ball left in the match. A thrilling finish to a great early game from what looks like a stellar tournament. Stay with the formula CPL, but those announcers – ouch!