Asks Akeem Greene
The gala Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has rolled on for five years now and one of the most consistent teams in the six-franchise tournament – Guyana Amazon Warriors- still manage to be left empty-handed with regards to hoisting the coveted trophy in jubilation.The bridesmaid and flower girl experience of the team can be aligned to a combination of factors, none more impactful than situational awareness and flexibility. All of which of which will be examined.
At the players’ draft in March , the Squad comprising : Sohail Tanveer, Martin Guptill, Chadwick Walton, Veerasammy Permaul, Roshon Primus, Gajanand Singh, Assad Fudadin, Keon Joseph, Chris Lynn, Rayad Emrit, Rashid Khan, Jason Mohammed, Steven Taylor, Steven Jacobs, Steven Katwaroo, Mohammed Ali Khan, Shimron Hetmyer was selected.
For varying reasons, Chris Lynn, Shimron Hetmyer, Martin Guptill were replaced by Babar Azam, Keemo Paul and Luke Ronchi respectively. Some of those replacements made an immediate impact while the others’ worth has to materialize.
With the team having a déjà vu regarding their loss to Trinbago Knight Riders on Thursday evening in the second qualifier- the same occurred in 2015- many fans took to social media to express their displeasure in the performance while some praised and expressed optimism for CPL 2018.
The opinions went from faults of players to the selection at the draft. Factually, the current model of the draft is too rigid and does not allow for flexibility in bids for various players since many rounds have an assigned salary cap.
It essentially means, certain calibre of players will always be picked from the pool at the various intervals. In addition, there is order in which teams are allowed to choose players and Warriors did have first pick this year.
The concern during the draft selection would stem from presumably not having the captain’s input. Most teams would have their captains, who are mostly appointed prior to the start of the season. They are visible whether it be by tele-conferencing or phone calls, giving inputs as who they would want in the squad.
On paper, most Warriors’ Squad lacked the world renowned power-hitters but that by no way has stopped them from qualifying for all five play-offs and reaching the final on three occasions. It is a marvel that came up short once again, why? A finisher was lacking. Too often when batting, the late order surge lacked. All-rounders Roshon Primus and Keemo Paul, who are both under 23 years attempted to play that role and had success to some degree. But essentially there was a need to have an experienced hitter.
Sticking to the script
If there is one flaw with the team, it was being rigid in their way of executing and in Twenty20 cricket such an approach will always come back to haunt. The rigidity was obvious in the batting which was the see-saw of their season. Only two batsmen, opener Chadwick Walton (458 runs) and Jason Mohammed (292) are in the top-ten of the tournament. The next best batsman was Luke Ronchi with 172 runs, who played just four matches.
After the top faded, the middle or the tail did not wag consistently. It was one reason they faulted at the start of the season. Let’s remember the matches against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots (in Florida) and Jamaica Tallawahs (Providence) which their batting practically gifted to the opposition after being in positions of certain victory.
A shock came in the crucial home match against Barbados Tridents where all-rounder Sohail Tanveer (he has one of the fastest 50s in CPL history) was promoted to open the batting, he made 16. Next match he smashed 38 but then his scores went 7,0,7 and 8. Should they have kept him at that top? The reasons seemed sound, extend the batting line-up and pinch early runs. Knight Riders are doing the same with Sunil Narine who consistently failed. There is a gamble in it but Warriors were certainly not on the winning end.
Given Ronchi’s ominous form, he would have been much better served taking up first strike. The same contention was made by numerous Television commentators. With Azam’s exit Singh, Mohamed or even Fudadin could have been pushed to the number three position to simply play the anchor role. There still was Steven Taylor in the squad.
Apart from Walton and Ronchi, there was a lack of intensity by the batters at the crease. The calculated approach of leaving it for the final four overs often looked the plan. Going shot gun from the start was a gamble the Warriors never took.
During the second Qualifier , Collin Munro, whose only scores of substance this season came against the Warriors was dropped twice early in his innings. He was ended with an unbeaten 57 and was deemed man-of-the match. If those chances were taken, it would have placed the home side under immense pressure.
Mohammed was certainly the standout in the outfield, taking some difficult catches. Other members of the team were guilty of flooring simple chance and far from impressive fielding.
Martin Guptill was appointed the captain for the second season but yet again he had to leave the tournament prematurely. Unfortunately, this occasion his father passed away. It was a season that the New Zealander would not want to remember. He was far from the fluent cricketer the world has known him to be and the lacked confidence, which might have creeped into his captaincy – a role that is quite new to him. After Guptill departed last year, Rayad Emrit took up the mantle and led the Warriors into the finals.
The Trinidadian-born knows of most of his teammates from the numerous years of regional cricket and employed an attacking approach with field settings and bowling changes. Taken up the post yet again with Warriors needed two wins to make the play-offs, he delivered the goods. His form with the ball continues to be impressive and can hit a long ball.
Looking ahead, the player must be considered to be the full time captain since it can give management and early start to planning their season with the aim of building a squad that will ultimately deliver the prize.
More so, given Emrit’s lack of presence in West Indies colours, him having to leave for international duties would be a highly unlikely factor.
If there was one area, the team scored full marks in was their bowling. Tanveer with 17 wickets leads the charts followed by Emrit (15) and leg-spinning sensation Rashid Khan (14). Khan who took the only hat-trick this season, kept an economy rate of 5.82. The trio kept the shackles on the opposition and were the most pleasing sight about the team. The support from Primus, Veerasammy Permaul and Steven Jacobs and Paul also added to the strength in the department.
Heading to pitches in Jamaica and St Lucia and even the one at the Brian Lara Stadium, the extra pace of Keon Joseph would have been useful, Joseph offered the extra ‘bite’ with the ball in conditions that would have assisted his trade.
Many of the loyal fans would still be hurting and wondering when they will get to boast of winning the title. For now it will have to be a time of reflection and doing clinical post-mortem to begin rebuilding towards 2018.