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The CPL and the West Indies Resurgence: What Franchises Can Do for Us

The 2016 CPL T20 started at the end of June and no doubt, no matter who wins, the tournament will be heralded as a success.

Photo: West Indies players celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket final against England at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016. (Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Photo: West Indies players celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket final against England at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.
(Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

The recent success of the West Indies in the shorter format of the game has contributed in no small way to the tournament’s growth and what seems to be a general acceptance by the public of the new franchise format.

Additionally, let us not forget it was the Stanford 20/20 started in 2006 in Antigua which set the foundation for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

We have had some ten years to refine this product. The question I want to address, however, is how has regional cricket benefited?

But more than just how, I want to extract those elements which in my opinion have delivered the greatest benefits so that we can make a case to focus investment in these areas.

In the recently concluded T20 World Cup the second rank West Indies went in as underdogs. I am not aware that any other team ranked at one or two would have been as disrespected as the West Indies team was going into a major tournament.

Photo: International cricket analyst and former West Indies legend Michael Holding. (Courtesy Telegraph.co.uk)
Photo: International cricket analyst and former West Indies legend Michael Holding.
(Courtesy Telegraph.co.uk)

None of the analysts, including West Indian self- proclaimed cricket gurus, gave the team more than an outside chance to win. The WICB’s treatment of the team is another story but will be discussed in as much as it is relevant to make my point. It is now history that we went on to win that tournament.

I believe that understanding our dominance in this form is linked to the potential for improvement overall and the resurgence of West Indian dominance in all formats. What is the reason though for our recent shorter form dominance?

I have heard persons suggest it suits our style of play, but I want to suggest that that is an over simplification. I believe that it is quite simply the only format of the game where the majority of our first team play at the highest level consistently.

The reality of our domestic league is that the quality is just not there. There really is no other way to say it. This is the core of our decline. Our players ply their trade around the world and play at the highest level consistently.

This is very similar to an earlier period of West Indies cricket dominated by players who played county cricket. Reputation is as important in cricket, as it is in any other sport. Even on a bad day the respect paid to Narine, Pollard or Gayle is undeniable.

Photo: West Indies captain and Trinidad and Tobago cricket star Dwayne Bravo.
Photo: West Indies captain and Trinidad and Tobago cricket star Dwayne Bravo.

I do not think that anyone genuinely believes that the success of Dwayne Bravo’s song “Champion” is due to the genius of the composition. It is due to the genius of seizing the opportunity.

I also do not think that anyone in the WICB can even begin to come to terms with the success of the song. The nature of their limitations in this regard is the major challenge to West Indies cricket.

They see players the same way employers in the region tend to see employees, when the reality is that the shift in sport world-wide is that the players draw the crowds and generate the revenue which in turn provides jobs.

So, Dave Cameron, you are the weakest link. Until the WICB comes to terms with the fact that they are the employees there will be no turn around.

Finally, to the potential of the CPL. We have to know the value of the brand that we have built. We are T20 World Champions but how are we going to leverage that beyond TV rights? We have to force these “franchises” to do their jobs.

Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron during a function at WIPA's office in Jamaica in 2014. (Courtesy WIPA)
Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron during a function at WIPA’s office in Jamaica in 2014.
(Courtesy WIPA)

The “give back” has to be assurance that they will set up real club structures in the region and register teams at club and regional level in all formats and at all ages. This is what a franchise can do. This can force a restructuring of the regional league and eventually an overall improvement in the standard of regional play.

We have to know that West Indies cricket has to transcend insular tendencies. The regional format has to be played among the best players and not among the individual countries. Only then can there be West Indian pride.

AboutAkins Vidale

Akins Vidale
Akins Vidale lectures at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies and is a UWI graduate with a B.A. in History. He has served as the president of the Trinidad Youth Council and is the General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN). Read his blog: http://akinsvidale.wordpress.com/

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10 comments

  1. Santokie Nagu Never heard they wanted to hosts games Asia Market to be fair – as the CPL CEO said in above article, New York and Toronto is where they want to go next if possible.

    Mel Lissa regarding franchises jobs well to date – CPL has a general body instead of franchises individually have been giving back. The biggest way is they give US250,000 after every tournament to WICB to fund domestic players contracts

    • ok..didn’t know. I don’t really like the Franchise idea so I never really took it on

    • Earl Best

      And if they give that amount, it doesn’t take rocket science to reckon that they are making money hand over fist. But I suppose we have to be thankful for small mercies – with the adjective being the operative word therein.

  2. What really is the job of the franchise?

  3. Games this year in Florida, and plans to host games next year in Hong Kong+Singapore to capture the Asian market. CPL is gradually moving away from actually being held in the Caribbean, yet will capatilise on the West Indian ”Calypso” Cricket brand to make private $$$ for themselves globally, thus rendering any actual development in the Caribbean minimal.

    • Earl Best

      Couldn’t put it better if I tried. The essential problem is that the CPL is neither about improving cricket nor about improving the region; it is a business and, like all businesses, it is about improving – not to say maximising – profits.

      And since the investors are for the most part non-West Indian, we have to hope for some kind of trickle down.

      Which is why, I suppose, the carefully worded headline says “can do” instead of “will do.”

  4. I am making a prediction, in the next two years the majority of the games will be played in the US.

    The 9 pm start time is to cater to the american prime time