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Legendary West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards expects the Limacol Caribbean Premier League to be a resounding success, judging from the fans’ response to the Barbados and Guyana legs of the inaugural tournament.
His statement came even before his team, the Antigua Hawksbills, convincingly beat the St Lucia Zouks by 33 runs in front of a sold out crowd at Beausejour.
Sell-out crowds were on hand to witness the three games at Kensington Oval in Barbados last week, with similar turn-outs marking the four exciting fixtures at the National Stadium at Providence in Guyana, which finished on Sunday.
Sir Viv, head coach of the Hawksbills, praised the massive crowd support noting that it augured well for the future of the Limacol CPL.
“I believe this tournament is a great tournament. The crowds we have seen will have given some indication as to where we are going and what we would like to achieve, and as the tournament goes on and I guess it’s going to get better,” said Sir Viv, who dominated the 1970s and 1980s era in 121 Tests and 187 One-Day Internationals.
“What we have seen showcased indicates to me that it could get better. To have such a great start to the tournament and to have the Barbados team winning at home was also a plus.”
The Limacol CPL bowled off in Barbados on July 30 with a spectacular opening ceremony, followed by the opening game where Barbados Tridents defeated St Lucia Zouks by 17 runs.
Two days later, the Tridents repeated their success with a 12-run triumph over the Hawksbills before capping the tripleheader on Sunday with a four-wicket verdict over Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in a low-scoring encounter.
Overall, 24 matches will be played across six venues – Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and St Lucia – with the semi-finals scheduled for Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on 22nd and 23rd August, and the final carded for 24th August at the same venue.
Sir Viv, long regarded as one of the finest batsmen to have played the game, said the Limacol CPL would definitely take West Indies cricket to another level.
“It is a great relief for us in this part of the world to have the CPL established, and to have Digicel being part of this. They play a big part in what we do here in the Caribbean,” Sir Viv stressed.
“I just think it is a great opportunity for some of our young professionals to be involved in a professional tournament starting in the Caribbean. With the other events being staged around the world, this is a platform for these kids to also travel further afield.”
Sir Viv, who mastered the limited over game but whose career ended before the onset of Twenty20 cricket, said what was needed to succeed in this format was ingenuity and quick thinking.
“It is all about game situation. You can’t afford to be one-dimensional, you have to make changes where it is necessary,” Sir Viv pointed out.
“This is what I think T20 does. You do not go out with any fixed plan but you have to do some thinking on your feet.”
Six franchises – Antigua Hawksbills, Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Lucia Zouks and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel – are contesting the Limacol CPL with 15 players representing each side.