Basseterre – St Kitts & Nevis Patriots will launch the defence of their maiden Caribbean Premier League title when they face Jamaica Tallawahs in the opening match of this year’s tournament on Wednesday on home soil.
The contest, starting at 7 p.m. (East Caribbean Time) at Warner Park in the St Kitts & Nevis capital, will be preceded by the opening match of the inaugural women’s tournament at 3 p.m. (EC Time) when Trinbago Knight Riders Women take on Barbados Royals Women – the recent winners of the inaugural 6IXTY last weekend.
After several years of coming up short, Patriots finally put their trophy-less record behind them when they stunned St Lucia Kings in a thrilling final last year at the same venue.
Retired West Indies all-rounder and Patriots captain Dwayne Bravo said there was now a growing belief among the squad that they could continue to challenge for honours.
“I am very excited,” Bravo told media on Tuesday. “Last season, I made a decision to leave TKR and challenge myself differently and in a different way to keep myself motivated for the game and to try and help others develop their game and their cricket.
“I think I made the right decision at the right time, and luckily enough, last season we won the trophy which gave St Kitts & Nevis Patriots their first ever CPL title.”
He added: “A few days ago, [we won the first-ever 6IXTY tournament] … so it’s a good foundation we’re starting to build and we’re starting to believe as a franchise and as a team that we can also be a dominant force in CPL.
“That’s our challenge and that’s our aim and we’re looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to defending our title… And not only that but we’re looking to play a brand of cricket to entertain the fans and make our franchise owners and the island of St Kitts & Nevis proud.”
Patriots once again feature a strong line-up with players such as Evin Lewis, Andre Fletcher, and Sherfane Rutherford spearheading the batting, and Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, and Dominic Drakes headlining the bowling attack.
Tallawahs, meanwhile, will be searching for a better performance than last year when they won only four of 10 matches to finish fifth of six teams and miss out on the playoffs.
They boast West Indies batsmen Rovman Powell and Brandon King, along with international all-rounder Fabian Allen, while Nepalese leg-spinning superstar Sandeep Lamichhane will lead the attack.
“From a team perspective, our preparations are going really well,” Tallawahs captain Chris Green said. “We’re starting to gel as a unit – I think that was the biggest benefit of the 6IXTY.
“You get to play as a team before the tournament starts – those moments where you sort of start finding your feet, where to go, how the team operates.”
He said: “We’ve kind of got a little bit of that out the way now, and we come into the CPL really excited about what this team can achieve, and I think what’s great for the Jamaican franchise is that there are a lot of strong local players coming through which I think is exciting.
“I know it makes me proud to be part of a franchise that’s headed in that direction.”
The men’s tournament runs until September 30 and will also be played in St Lucia, Trinidad, and Guyana – but the women’s edition wraps up next Sunday in St Kitts.