Reprinted from the Jamaica Observer
There is absolutely no doubt that the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty-20 Tournament has become a premier feature on the cricketing calendar each year.
The depth in strategy of the high-level tournament continues to expand each year and the upcoming 2016 season will be no different.
Since its inception in 2013, the CPL has consistently attracted a number of powerhouse international superstars, and this year will welcome the likes of Brendan McCallum (New Zealand), Shane Watson (Australia), AB De Villiers (South Africa) and the returning Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), to name a few.
Manish Patel, part-owner of the Jamaica Tallawahs Franchise, expressed delight about the heightened interest of the CPL Product.
“I think it (CPL) is here to stay; I think last year the viewership was 93 million people worldwide for the CPL and every year we see a 30-40 per cent jump roughly, so I think the product is getting bigger and better,” Patel said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer at Sabina Park recently.
“The true testament is that your number one asset is the players, and just the commitment from the players from different countries… superstars, all these guys that are coming in signing up for CPL just shows you that CPL is getting bigger and better every year. So I think we feel pretty confident to buy into the teams, because if you think just for a few years then you would be thinking short,” he added.
Another noteworthy feature this year will be the staging of six neutral fixtures in the United States which will give cricket fans across the diaspora an opportunity to see some of the greatest players in the world live in action this summer.
The move, approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC), has also opened a window of opportunity for six ICC Americas players to be selected in this year’s draft.
Patel applauded CPL’s CEO Damien O’Donohoe and his team for the move which he described as a step in the right direction and a vast indication to the significant growth of the league.
“There will be some neutral games being played in the US, so I think that should be a pretty good exposure for CPL, which is also close to Jamaica. That is again another big move and credit to Damien and his team.
“They have done a very good job over the last three years and have run the league in a very successful way with very limited resources. Because it is not a big market from a commercial standpoint, and they have been able to maximise and I think folks at ICC have been able to see that and they have been able to get a green light, so credit to them for sure,” Patel noted.
When quizzed about where in the US the games will be contested, Patel was reluctant to reveal, opting to instead wait until the full information for the coming season is announced.
“I will wait until the official statement comes out because I don’t want to be the one to break the news in terms of where it will be played, but I think the American market is ideal for cricket,” he said.
“I agree that it (USA) doesn’t have a rich history in cricket, but it does have a huge population of diaspora of Caribbean people among others. They have been a part of the product as well, so I think it is the right time for the US to get this kind of exposure of a T20 professional league like CPL,” he continued.
With the six teams having to travel to and from the United States in addition to accommodation, Patel admitted that the expenses for the franchise owners will be more this year.
However, he quickly added that it is an investment they are willing to make in moving the product forward.
“I don’t have the numbers as to how much more expensive it will be, I know it will be expensive to stage the games in the US, but I am not sure if it will be 20 or 30 per cent more, that is still being worked out by the CPL people,” he said.
Reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders will seek to defend their title against former champions Barbados Trident and Jamaica Tallawahs, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and St Lucia Zouks. The tournament is expected to be contested July-August.