Even the gentleman’s sport needs a bit of a reinvigoration of sorts, isn’t it?
Cricket extends a brattish vibe, attributes to the spirit of camaraderie- spunk of flair- and attains a makeover of sorts when it comes to T20s.
Does it not? And can there be anything better than experiencing T20s at its best form when it gets a Caribbean flavour to it?
The IPL might be the biggest of its kind of T20 premier league in the sub-continent or Asia, for that matter. But when you transport the template of T20 and place it in the Calypso islands, it becomes a festival of sorts.
Cricket then, becomes more than just a sport; it becomes a celebration of sorts.
And this year too, the CPL 2018, aptly titled the best party in the Caribbean brought out some ruthless batting performances and some dominant bowling displays. You’d have to feel for the likes of the Jamaica Tallawahs and the Barbados Tridents, arguably two fighting outfits of the past that didn’t exactly enjoy the best CPL this time around.
But while you’d feel the most for the Guyana Amazon Warriors that truly justified the hype they built around them, you cannot possibly ignore the performance of the Trinbago Knight Riders, usual suspects when it comes to putting together strong chart-topping performances.
That said, let’s quickly dive into the list of 6 best players of CPL 2018.
The saying about Colin Munro, who rises back to form with the same effort required by a denim lover to put on a new pair of jeans, is that when he hits the ball; it stays hit.
If anyone had a doubt about Colin Munro in CPL 2018, then he removed that with emphatic ease. Munro’s unbeaten 68 in the finals was a powerful knock from the very top of the order that made the run-chase of the DJ Bravo-led team scale well in the end.
Scoring more than 500 runs, Munro was at his devilish best with the bat, as he went on to plunder runs at a strike rate of 140. His highest score was 90. In a format where batting averages do not matter as much as sixes or fours struck, his was a beaming 51.
When Andre Russell burst into the West Indian outfit, a commotion that had long been around finally settled. The focus was now on the Jamaican who, in a very short span of time, became a part of a two-time World T20 winning outfit.
But it’s not that with Andre Russell, the debate about the West Indian all-rounder ended perpetually. Suddenly, there arose another Jamaican, and that meant, Russell’s compatriot who went on to prove that if Russell could hit it far then he could too.
If Russell could deliver the goods with the bat then he too could. Rovman Powell, who happens to have found a sweet spot with the selectors in both limited overs and the briefest format of the game delivered some impressive performances in the CPL 2018.
He was the find of the league back in 2016. This time around, big-hitting Powell collected 329 runs at an average of 54 and struck a personal best of 84.
In so doing, he also came decently good with the ball, taking 5 wickets. But his batting shone at its brightest against the Barbadians, who could do little with the way he tethered their medium pacers. Against St Kitts, in the 25th game, had it not been for Powell’s 40-ball-84, that included 4 sixes, Jamaica may not have crossed the 200 run mark.
When the ‘Lil’ Bravo arrived at the West Indian circuit, circa 2011, there was a reassurance that the West Indians hadn’t really bid their farewell to Brian Lara for another replica of his had seemingly arrived. After all, there was more to a man who was popularly referred to as “Carbon copy of Brian Lara.” He was the ‘Prince of Trinidad’s’ cousin.
The flamboyance in the middle soon took over the attention of the cricketing world and went on to collect some dizzying feats, such as a famous 166 at Wankhede on Bravo’s maiden India tour and the epic 116 under night lights at the UAE against Pakistan in a truly unforgettable pink-ball Test. Then, all of a sudden, following a run-in with Dave ‘Wycliffe’ Cameron, Bravo was out.
Now, the word is that he may just be back to where he belongs: in the Windies colours. And if there’s a strong evidence of that then Bravo’s CPL 2018 tally should suffice, that saw him collect 353 runs off 13 games at a fantastic strike rate of 131.
He was at his imperious best against the St Lucia Stars where the leftie fired an unbeaten 94. He combined grace and power with exceptional ease and in so doing, he proved Pollard that height and frame hardly matter in front of the form.
The bowler whose celebration goes to show just how important the sport really is to him, Imran Tahir found his sweet spot in the CPL 2018, wherein he bowled his heart out for the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
He was cunning and deceptive and didn’t shy away from giving the ball an extra bit of a leap in the air. His confidence and consistency yielded 13 wickets, including a sensational bowling performance against the Patriots wherein he decked out a 4-for.
The left-hander who knows a thing or two about hitting the big blows out of the park was part of an outfit that was arguable, the most followed in the CPL 2018.
Together with his good friend Shimron Hetmyer, Rutherford became a regular feature of clubbing some feisty ones out of the park. Through knocks of 45 not out and that precious 48 against the Tridents, this leftie proved that while at 20, he might not be an experienced player, he had the tenacity and skill to go through the rigours to become an experienced Windies player one day.
May that surely happens to the youngster.
If one wanted to understand the significance of the CPL 2018, then a simple test could suffice. Simply remove Shimron Hetmyer from the scene of the biggest T20 party in the world and then imagine the tournament without him. It may appear dark, hazy or bleak.
Such was the big-hitting Hetmyer’s form in a series that’s known to reward the persistence of the youth with a future call-up for the national side. But now that Shimron Hetmyer- scores such as 39, 59, 48, 100- has already become a feature of the Windies national side, he’d want to carry on his hot form into what lies ahead in his national duties.
Arguably, as also suggested by Ian Bishop, the biggest moment of the CPL 2018 came in the form of Hetmyer’s phenomenal 100, a knock that came off just 49 balls, including 5 massive sixes against Tallawahs. Then, Lauderdale erupted to the quintessential Caribbean beats produced by the enigmatic ease by Hetmyer.
For starters, there’s a big opportunity for Shimron to continue his momentum against India, where the West Indies travel in November. At 20, Hetmyer’s got the guts, the charisma, and the fire to ton up some useful scores. Can he make it count big?