Euro 2020 Special
 

Caribbean Premier League 2022 Preview: Knight Riders Start as Favourites

The 10th edition of the Caribbean Premier League will begin with a match featuring the defending champions St Kitts and Nevis Patriots against the Jamaica Tallawahs in Basseterre.

It is the start of a competition which will be played over the next four weeks with the final to be staged on the 30th September in Providence, Guyana.

As always, the tournament will feature six franchises, with the others being the Barbados Royals, the Guyana Amazon Warriors, the Saint Lucia Kings, and the Trinbago Knight Riders.

 

The format

During the group stage of the competition, each team will play 10 times on a league basis. The top four teams then advance to the knock-out stages of the competition, which is organised on similar lines to the Indian T20 league.

That sees the top two sides meet in a Qualifier, with the winner progressing directly to the final.

The loser will play the winner of the Eliminator game, featuring the third and fourth placed teams to decide the other finalist.

 

The favourites

The Trinbago Knight Riders, four-time winners of the competition and who share owners with the Indian T20 franchise, the Kolkata Knight Riders, begin favourites because they have acquired wisely, picking up Andre Russell from the Tallawahs and West India skipper Nicolas Pooran in their pre-draft signings.

They may lack a dominant opener, but they have a potentially formidable middle order with Russell and Pooran supplemented by the likes of Kiwi Colin Munro and former West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard.

They also have a top quality spin attack, and with the last half of their league fixtures and the play-offs taking place on grounds that traditionally favour spin, the schedule compensates for any weaknesses they may have in terms of seam bowling.

 

The defending champions

St Kitts have retained most of the side that win the title for the first time last season. However, one glaring absence this time is veteran Chris Gayle, who has been replaced by Andre Fletcher.

They have managed to recruit Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, a proven star in the Indian T20 league, and they also have in their ranks Dwayne Bravo who is the first man to take 550 wickets in T20 cricket and who skippers the team.

They appear to have the wherewithal to make the play-offs again, but expecting them to defend their title might be a big ask.

 

Saint Lucia twice runners-up

The Kings have never won the tournament but have finished runners-up in the past two years (although they were known as the Zouks prior to last year).

Maintaining that record this time round, might be a tall order, although they are led by the veteran Faf du Plessis and will lean heavily into his experience,

And they can boast one of the stronger pace attacks with Alzarri Joseph and the Australian Scott Kuggeleijn spearheading it. But they lack any quality spin options and they have a thinner roster, in terms of quality, than the other franchises.

 

Royals looking for progress

The Barbados Royals won the tournament in 2019, but then endured two difficult seasons and failed to make the play-offs in either.

They are hoping for better fortunes this time and have the advantage of having South African Quinton de Kock to lead their batting, whilst his countryman David Miller can be one of the most destructive hitters in T20 cricket.

They also have one of the strongest bowling attacks in the competition with the pace of Hayden Walsh, Obed McCoy, and Oshane Thomas, supplemented by Afghan off-spinner and all-rounder Mujeeb -ur-Rahman.

They should make the play-off stages at least this time.

 

Guyana always the bridesmaids

The Guyana Amazons have reached the play-offs every single year that the tournament has been held, but have never gone on to lift the trophy itself despite five final appearances. 

And having lost both Nicholas Pooran and Brandon King from their batting line-up, they do not look equipped to break their duck this time, although in Ireland’s Paul Stirling they do have somebody cable of scoring big runs quickly.

Another team that is likely to benefit from playing on pitches conducive to spin, they can look forward to another play-off appearance.

 

Jamaica the outsiders

Although the Tallawahs were the inaugural winners of the tournament and also triumphed in 2016, they have struggles to match those heights since. And on paper at least, they seem the weakest of the franchises this time round.

Their batting line-up – dominated as it is by right-handers -appears vulnerable to spin, whilst their blowing attack lacks star names.

 

Predictions

The Knight Riders, St Lucia, Guyana and the Royals are expected to make the knock-out stages with the Knight Riders emerging as the eventual winners.

 

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