Former West Indies international believes Kieron Pollard’s men can reclaim title last won in 2014
Barbados Tridents Assistant Coach Vasbert Drakes believes that the Barbados Tridents Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has the right blend of youth and experience this summer to launch an assault on the coveted title once more.
The former international bowling all-rounder Drakes, who represented the West Indies in 12 Tests (where he averaged 21.44 with the bat and claimed 33 wickets) and 34 One-Day Internationals (51 wickets), took 614 first-class wickets in 164 games and since his retirement has been a member of the Tridents backroom team for the last three seasons, including the victorious 2014 CPL campaign.
In addition, the 46-year-old Bajan was also the Head Coach of the West Indies Women’s team who lifted the ICC World T20 trophy in India earlier this year and is one of a strong crop of indigenous coaches involved in the CPL this year alongside the likes of Roger Harper and Esuan Crandon (Guyana Amazon Warriors), Imran Jan (Trinbago Knight Riders), Floyd Reifer (St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots) and Stuart Williams who is assisted by Sir Andy Roberts (St. Lucia Zouks).
In an exclusive interview with www.cplt20.com on the eve of the fourth instalment of the biggest party in sport, Drakes spoke about what it means to be a Trident, how the squad is shaping up and his hopes for the forthcoming campaign.
On being involved in the Tridents set-up again: “I’m very excited to be involved with the Tridents once more. This is my third season and it’s a great group of guys and I’m really looking forward to be in each other’s company and playing some competitive cricket.
Barbados have a great tradition, a great legacy and a great history in the game and have produced some wonderful cricketers. Certainly, we would like to keep that reputation intact and continue to play cricket that the public really want to see.”
On AB de Villiers’ influence in the Tridents squad: “(AB) is an absolute genius of the modern game. I have met him a couple of times and with my involvement in cricket in South Africa when he was coming on the scene. A fantastic player, fantastic human being and very humble, so surely the team will be excited to have such a high-dimensional player in the side who can win a game in the space of a couple of overs. Yes, we recognise that he will have tremendous potential and influence on the side, and everyone is really looking forward to having him as part of the group.”
On the growth of the game and the imminent arrival of CPL in the USA: “As we all know the game has evolved tremendously over the last 15 years. (Regarding) the marketing (of the game) in America, certainly it has a lot of ex-pats who follow cricket very strongly, coming from the likes of South Africa, Australia, England, India and Pakistan, so the opportunity for us to spread the game, as custodians of the game, is only good for cricket. I believe that the market is only new to the game, but T20 cricket is a fantastic opportunity to spread the game. Everyone is certainly looking forward to playing at the (Central Broward) Stadium and certainly looking forward to the support that we’re expecting to get.”
On attempting to mark Barbados’ 50th year of independence with the CPL title: “That certainly has to be high on the agenda. We have had a fantastic group of cricketers who have come out of Barbados over the past 60 years; we have the likes of Sir Garry Sobers 80th birthday and everyone is excited about celebrating a legend of Barbados who everyone holds in high esteem and I’m sure he will be at the games. In Sir Everton (Weekes), Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes we have been blessed with some great talent. They’re guys who have paved the way for Barbados in terms of spreading the word through their performances. So yes, for us to be from this beautiful place, this beautiful rock, we want to be a part of it and we embrace it and we welcome people here because we just do things differently. We live as a family and we’re really excited that this edition, and in our four games here, we can see the support continue to grow. Once that happens, the younger generation will get an opportunity to see some fantastic cricketers that will motivate them for the years to come.”
On being part of the Women’s World T20 success: “I used to work for the Barbados Cricket Association so I spent some time developing some of the ladies who have represented the West Indies. I inherited a squad from Sherwin Campbell who did some tremendous work with the ladies team over the last five or six years. He laid the foundation and my transition was pretty easy because I had coached those ladies before. When I took over 12 months ago, our first objective was to win away from home so we could climb up the ICC ranking. We would have played in Sri Lanka and beat them, we played Pakistan and beat them and we went to South Africa before we travelled to India and we had built some really good momentum. We had done a lot of research and recognised that we had a team who were close to peaking. Our high impact players like Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin really made inroads into the opposition and allowed us to control the games for longer periods. It’s exciting for the West Indies because we have some younger players like Hayley Matthews and in five to 10 years’ time, if we can keep that group together, we should be able to dominate for a long period of time. West Indies cricket really need it. We came a bit out of the woodwork but there had been (a lot of) quiet work behind the scenes on what was needed to be done for them to control the environment and taking the game away when it matters.”
On the development of home-grown West Indies coaches: “It’s fantastic getting the opportunity to coach at the highest level, and also getting the opportunity to interact with some of the best coaches and players around the world, where you can continue to share ideas and brainstorm…can only augur well for the young coaches coming up in the Caribbean. Also, the opportunity to showcase that we have what it takes to grow elite athletes, in the case of Otis Gibson, Phil Simmons and now myself winning major titles around the world, will motivate the coaches in the Caribbean to aspire to be even better coaches. We are not necessarily the pioneers, but we have set a standard and that’s obviously something that we’ll try to maintain and bring through with the younger coaches and give them the necessary ammunition and tools so they can go and compete and create winning environments. I am very happy to be part of this era where people are starting to recognise that we have what it takes to develop winning environments.”
On regrets at not having the opportunity to play T20 or CPL: “It’s not necessarily regret. I think that as a cricketer it’s a game that’s full of energy and it has evolved to the extent where the skills level of players is quite phenomenal. The bats that they’re using today can put bowlers at a disadvantage. From a financial point of view you would like to think that if you had the skills you would have been compensated for your profession. It would be very interesting from a bowling perspective, where you have to bowl the ball pretty straight at the stumps. Your skill would have definitely got tested! Like all cricketers you’d have likes to have been a part of this generation to see if you were capable of making that transition from Once-Day cricket to Test cricket and be successful at the shortest form in T20 which is where everyone is going nowadays.”
On the message to the players, both local and international, on what is expected of them in Barbados: “My advice is to continue to be a student of the game. Cricket has given us a great opportunity to see the world and to interact with some wonderful people, make some wonderful friends that you will always remember. To play for Barbados, for me, that was my childhood dream. When you look around these walls (in Legends House across from the Kensington Oval), you see names like Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Charlie Griffith, Malcolm Marshall and the list goes on. Those great players motivated me to play the game. They made themselves accessible where they shared their knowledge, hence the reason why they have helped produce players of the calibre that we have. Barbados, for me, is a very special place. (The players) should respect that Tridents shirt and that blue Tridents cap because you’re representing the people as an ambassador and also you’re selling our country as a brand. We back ourselves as a unit to continue to perform at the level that people expect us to. The nucleus of the squad is still there and we have some high impact players like AB (de Villiers), Robin Peterson and Kyle Hope who is a fantastic young talent. We have (Wayne) Parnell, (David) Wiese and a really good combination of players. With (Shoaib) Malik back, obviously we missed him in the latter half of last year, he did a fantastic job for us and let’s hope that he can continue in that rich vein of form. Most of all, we have a group of players where we try to create a family environment where they want to play for each other…and they believe that they are winners. And that we will continue to prepare the environment and prepare guys so those performances can continue in the manner that will bring us some silverware. In T20 cricket, as you know, you can lose a game within two overs, but I think we have skills and it’s about how well we adapt this time around and execute on the given day, and how we execute under pressure. That’s something that we (will) really pride ourselves upon.”
Barbados Tridents Home Fixtures (all times local): 11 July – Jamaica Tallawahs (8pm), 13 July – St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots (8pm), 16 July – Trinbago Knight Riders (12 Midday), 17 July – St. Lucia Zouks (7pm).
Barbados Tridents Squad: Kieron Pollard, AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Ravi Rampaul, David Wiese, Robin Peterson, Raymon Reifer, Ashley Nurse, Wayne Parnell, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Kyle Hope, Navin Stewart, Kyle Corbin, Steven Taylor, Shamar Springer