Paul Skinner, event operations officer for the Barbados leg of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League, says he expects Barbadian fans to adjust quickly to the new franchise concept, ensuring that the inaugural Twenty20 showpiece is an overwhelming success when it bowls off here later this month.
He was speaking as a guest on CBC Radio’s popular Mid-Wicket Cricket Show here Tuesday night, where he fielded questions from host Keith Holder, as well as callers to the programme.
Barbados will be the first port of call for the Limacol CPL, hosting what is expected to be a glitzy opening ceremony and the maiden game between Barbados Tridents and St Lucia Zouks at Kensington Oval on July 30.
“It is one of those things where you have to get accustomed. The first year the IPL was run, it was a case of getting used to players who may not have necessarily come from the particular city, but who were playing for those cities,” Skinner explained.
“But that’s the whole essence of the franchise system where players are selected from wherever they are within the region, to play for a particular team. There were stipulations [in the LCPL draft] where you must have seven locals inside the team so we do have a large Barbadian contingent [and] there is a large local contingent in each of the franchise teams throughout the Caribbean.”
Barbados Tridents will be captained by West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago big-hitter Kieron Pollard, and includes the likes of Trinidadian Shannon Gabriel, the Pakistani duo of Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal, and superstar Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib al Hasan.
However, several Barbadians populate the 15-man squad, with Dwayne Smith, Kyle Mayers, Raymon Reifer, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter and Kirk Edwards, all included.
Skinner, who has worked extensively in the past with the Indian Premier League, believes fans will come out to support the LCPL teams regardless of their composition.
“It is a new concept and with anything new, there will be a period of adjustment. Yes we have a Trinidadian captaining a team that is in Barbados but when he goes and plays cricket in Mumbai, he is a Trinidadian playing cricket in Mumbai so there is not really much difference,” he pointed out.
“For instance, Rohit Sharma is from Mumbai but he played first with the Deccan Chargers from Hyderabad and he was well loved here. It is just a matter of folks embracing their teams, supporting the local franchises and coming out to see the games.”
Skinner also responded to some callers’ concerns about the scheduling of the tournament in the middle of the country’s Carnival celebrations. The Limacol CPL Barbados matches take place from July 30 to August 3, a period which coincides with the climax of the Crop Over Festival.
However, Skinner said he expected both cricket and Carnival to combine in a thrilling hybrid, where fans could sample the best of both worlds of high octane entertainment.
“We understand that it is in the middle of Crop Over. There will be a lot of visitors here as well. We have had interest from overseas and the people who are coming in have the opportunity not only to enjoy Crop Over, but to see the inaugural Limacol CPL T20 starting in Barbados,” he said.
“It does pose some challenges, more logistically than anything else, but we are hoping that with the fun and excitement and the Carnival-like atmosphere that the tournament will bring, that fans will all come out and enjoy the games.
“The games start at 8 pm and will finish around 11pm to 11.30 pm so if you really want to go and take in a party afterward, there is still ample opportunity to do that after the game.”
The Limacol Caribbean Premier League will feature an array of Caribbean and international stars contesting 24 matches, played across Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago, from July 30 to August 24.
Ninety players have been contracted to play in the CPL, with each franchise team comprising 15 players.
Barbados Tridents comprises Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik, Shakib al Hasan, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Smith, Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Rayad Emrit, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Kyle Mayers, Devendra Bishoo, Kirk Edwards and Raymon Reifer.