Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik of the Barbados Tridents has said he expects the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) to become “huge” after the success of the ongoing inaugural tournament.
Malik has been one of the stars of the show as the leading batsman with 223 runs from seven innings, as well as three wickets, and his side – led by Kieron Pollard – is getting ready to face Chris Gayle’s JamaicaTallawahs in Friday’s second semi-final.
Having played cricket all around the world – including for the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League – he has no doubts about the quality of the current tournament and its potential for longevity.
“After the IPL and the Big Bash League you can take this as third (in the world) and it is just the first year,” he said. “The response from the West Indies people has been awesome. Whenever you are playing a league it is about people coming to the ground; that is the key to success, and I have seen that here.
“People have been coming from everywhere. I was talking to the Jamaica players and they were saying ‘We were not expecting much of a crowd in Jamaica’, but we played there and even in a day game I saw the ground full and energetic.
“It is a great thing. I went out to dinner with (Muttiah) Murali(tharan) here in Trinidad and people met us and said they had tickets for the rest of the games here.
“A few said ‘We do not follow cricket but we are still coming to support our team’.
“It is just the first year but I would give these guys credit for the way this has been handled and organised. I am sure next year it will be even better, it will be huge. That is what all the overseas players are expecting,” he added.
For Malik, the Limacol CPL has been something of a re-birth. Having slipped out of international reckoning for Pakistan’s tour of Zimbabwe he has not only been a star with the bat but has also featured prominently with the ball, relishing pitches that have often assisted the slower bowlers.
“I was struggling with my shoulder and my elbow but I have had surgery for my elbow and I have worked hard in the gym every day,” he said. “Now I am absolutely fine. I can even bowl 30 overs in one day. I am very happy and I want to play as an all-rounder; that is my priority.
Malik says he met with Kieron Pollard during the (ICC) Champions Trophy in England and Pollard said that he wanted him to play as an all-rounder.
“When someone gives you that confidence it is always good.”
Malik, still only 31 despite being a veteran of 32 Tests, 216 One-Day Internationals and 53 Twenty20 Internationals, said he still has international aspirations.
“Representing your country is the biggest thing (and) of course I want to play for my team (Pakistan), I want to do well for my country,” he said. “I still think I can play for another five or six years. I am fit but I want to see myself consistent and I do not want to bat at number six (for Pakistan) any more, I want to bat at number three or four. I just want to play for the country and do well. That is my goal.”
In the short term, Malik has his eyes on the big prize in Trinidad.
“It is so far, so good (for me),” he said. “I have played some good innings, (I have been) bowling also (and) I want my team to be in the final and win this Limacol CPL. We are all working hard and practicing every day for that. Cricket is our passion.”
The inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League runs until 24 August with the two semi-finals taking place on Thursday and Friday, and the final taking place on Saturday.