“The biggest party in sport” is correct: the Hero Caribbean Premier League is cause for excitement throughout the region, it gives Caribbean fans something to look forward to in the midst of the continued slide of West Indies cricket, as it provides yet another host for existing—while also giving rise to—new rivalries. Yet, the ultimate purpose of the competition is to develop West Indian talent. And following the just concluded 7th edition of the tournament, it is safe to say that the CPL is doing its job.
There is a current crop of young talent (this generation), specifically in limited overs cricket, that the Caribbean has not seen in such an abundance since the initial dominance of the infamous West Indian mercenaries, who conquered T20 leagues around the world. And while several members of this generation emerged from that triumphant 2016 Under-19 World Cup team, there is no doubt that the CPL is what has provided one of the main stages for their ongoing growth, especially the uncapped players.
To comprehend the body of work that the likes of Llendl Simmons, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Daren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and company amassed over the years, is to acknowledge that we cannot just expect a repeat of their accomplishments from this generation of players; yet, the raw talent is most certainly there.
One of the very first members of this generation that the CPL made way for—even before the transition of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup winners—was Nicolas Pooran in 2013 and again, following his accident, in 2016. Alzarri Joseph, Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas got their first chance in 2016. While, Fabian Allen, Obed McCoy and Keemo Paul came through in 2017, among others. All of whom have gone on to become mainstays in their franchises’ set-up, as well as become international cricketers.
But take the current position of Obed McCoy, for example; he has been on the outside of West Indies cricket more than he has been on the inside. Yet, being a key player in the St. Lucia Stars’ set-up, he is promised a stage, close to home (the CPL), to remind the selectors of his abilities.
Or, in the case of Romario Shepherd, who did not make the best of his opportunities in his first CPL season last year; the fast-bowler was able to take full advantage of his second season, finishing the tournament as one of the most impressive local seamers of the season.
As for Brandon King, who was part of the Patriots team last season, the Jamaican was presented with the opportunity to open for a team that actively promotes youth, a team who stuck with him through his quiet start in the tournament, as he repaid their faith by finishing atop the runs table.
And though the likes of Oshane Thomas might have been off the pace these past few months, it was his CPL performances that demanded an international debut and took him to the World Cup earlier this year.
The Caribbean Premier League, for the West Indies, is not in the interest of finished articles; but the process in becoming same. Therefore, despite the likes of Javelle Glenn and Shamar Springer not being the brightest stars this season, these are two players we can look forward to in the next edition of the tournament based on the potential displayed. The Barbados Tridents might have won the 2019 Hero CPL, but with the continued development of youngsters and the emergence of new talent, the West Indies are forever the winners, and rightly so.
About An Eye Out:
For the 2019 edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the series An Eye Out followed the progress of the talented Caribbean youngsters involved in the competition.