Smith optimistic of CPL tournament being a success in Florida
By Akeem Greene
Many pundits of the sport consider it a momentous move to have Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) matches played in Florida, since it could possibly open the floodgates for more professional cricket to be played in the United States and Guyana Amazon Warriors all-rounder Dwayne Smith is firmly in agreement.
“I think it is a very good idea. I would hope they can get into Canada as well; there are a lot of Caribbean people in America and I’m sure they will come out to see their favourite players, their team… I think it’s a good idea to get them into the cricket. America is here now, but if you can get Canada into it as well, I’m sure it will be good,” Smith said in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times Sport.
The Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida will be hosting some if not all of the six Florida matches.
The Amazon Warriors will be a part of the first match against Barbados Tridents on July 28 from 19:00h, then on July 29, the action continues at the same time when St Kitts and Nevis Patriots play Trinbago Knight Riders.
July 30 will begin the weekend of two double headers, as Jamaica Tallawahs face St Lucia Zouks from 12 noon; then from 16:00hrs, the Amazon Warriors battle the Tridents once more. The next day, the Knight Riders face the Patriots followed by Tallawahs versus Zouks.
The CPL matches will be the first revenue-generating cricket matches at the facility since West Indies played two Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand in June 2012.
The “Biggest Party in Sport” has its own unique attributes which set it apart from other T20 leagues around the world, as it stands out with its festive atmosphere, which, according to the West Indies T20 opening batsman, is making outsiders intrigued by the tournament.
“It’s very good. I think everyone is excited about CPL right now, you can see the Indian owners are coming and buying into teams and hopefully we can get it where the other overseas players can play, like the Indians, but it’s a good tournament and I hope it can continue to grow, making it bigger,” Smith said.
The 33-year-old, who has played with the Barbados Tridents for the past three editions, has produced some stellar performances during the tournament. The pugnacious right-hand batsman has scored two centuries in the CPL, one of which came against the Warriors in 2014.
The Amazon Warriors new recruit aims to continue his rich form to help his team in their title bid.
“It’s always good to play with a new team; have been with the Tridents for three years, having said that, I have been selected for the Amazon Warriors, so it is all about the Warriors,” Smith said.
He added, “I’m upbeat for it, looking to get some good performances, and hope it gives us a chance to get some wins.”
In speaking of his new team’s chances, the Barbadian, who was part of the winning West Indies World T20 Squad in 2012 and has a vast knowledge of T20 cricket, having played 255 matches to date, believes the Warriors are very much capable of doing well in the six-team competition.
He explained, “Our chances, I think we have a very good team, good mixture of experience and youngsters and I would hope that it would help us throughout the tournament and I think we have a really good chance to win the competition.
Smith, who tasted CPL championship glory in 2014 with the Tridents, is of the firm belief that not having some of the more famous players will in no way hamper the Warriors’ chances.
“It’s all about the experience and who knows how to play in the Caribbean; a lot of people are big names but they still don’t make runs in the Caribbean; they still don’t perform that well with the ball in the Caribbean, so I think we have the ability to go far here and I’m sure we will be competitive in this competition,” the player said.
He further stated, “I don’t look at other teams. I look at my team and I will focus on my team and to get my team better is for me getting performances and being consistent with it.”
The batsman will have the first opportunity to thrill fans with his powerful stroke-play when the Warriors take on the Patriots at Warner Park on Thursday after which they head to the twin-island Republic to play defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders on July 2.
The Martin Guptill-led side will then return home for the first of four home matches beginning on July 7 against the Tallawahs.