Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, has given the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) his seal of approval after attending the Antigua Hawksbills/Barbados Tridents clash.
The Virgin Group is a founding team sponsor for the Hawksbills and Sir Richard’s presence had a galvanising effect on the team as they overcame the table-topping Tridents in a low-scoring thriller.
“I love this league,” he said as he watched the action. “I love the fact it is not stuffy (and) I love the fact that you arrive and there is music playing. People are partying as you only get in the West Indies. The great thing about this cricket is that it is exciting – it is designed to entertain and people want to be entertained.
“”Equally there are cricket buffs who want five-day cricket where no-one wins at the end of it and that is very British and that has a place as well, but from a pure entertainment perspective nothing beats this.”
The Hawksbills’ win against the Tridents ripped up the form book and it was a result that gave Sir Richard cause for celebration.
“It is great to be involved with (Sir) Viv (Richards) and his team,” he said. “We always like to be involved with the underdogs and at the moment the Antigua team is the underdog but that means there is only one way to go –which is up.
“We will have to see how they do in this first season but over the next few years I am sure you will see them competing with the best teams.”
Sir Richard also took time to explain the value of the Virgin Group’s association with the LCPL.
“I think Virgin flies to more destinations [in the Caribbean] than anyone else in Europe and we bring an awful lot of people into the Caribbean and we are very proud of that,” he said.
“We are about to put on brand new planes on all our Caribbean routes and that will be happening in the next few months. The Caribbean has been kind to us and hopefully Virgin’s been kind to the Caribbean,” he added.
Hawksbills coach Sir Vivian Richards presented Sir Richard with his own Hawksbill playing shirt but was diplomatic about his chances of making the squad.
“He will have to do some practice and then we will assess it from there,” said Sir Viv, to which Sir Richard replied, “At least he is considering me!”
Sir Viv added: “It [the LCPL] has been a great format for the region with the excitement and the different side of things it brings with the music, the entertainment and the spectacle.
“To have Sir Richard and his company Virgin involved is great. It is great to have heavyweights behind you.”
The Virgin Group is a tournament partner with Virgin Atlantic the official airline of the LCPL, while Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Media and Virgin Holidays all support the competition.
The inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League runs until 24 August with the two semi-finals and final taking place in Trinidad.