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CPL 18: Did Lara put ‘goatmouth’ on TKR or were Bravo’s men playing dead to ketch Amazon cobo alive?

One day fuh police, the old people tell us, and one day fuh tief.

With Trinbago Knight Riders now carded to take on—for the third time in the space of a week—the Guyana Amazon Warriors in tomorrow’s first qualifier in Providence, what I think interests the fans is whose way the third day is supposed to go.

Photo: Guyana Amazon Warriors’ Chadwick Walton (second from left) is congratulated by his teammates during CPL action against the Trinbago Knight Riders at the Queen’s Park Oval, POS on 5 September 2018.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Truth be told, true TKR supporters—as distinct from fans—are probably now much less sanguine about their team’s performance in 2018 than they were last week. But having been warned by Brian Lara that it’s normal for every winning team to have a “blip,” those supporters should not let their hearts be troubled by last night’s cutarse. It was, if the Prince of Port-of-Spain is right, a positive, mere reassurance that there is always a right time for things to go wrong.

So I want to take issue with the Wired868 headline that saw the Warriors “stun” the Knight Riders. In my view, the headline fails to take account of the very real possibility that TKR skipper Dwayne Bravo and company may well have wanted the result they got. In fact, as soon as the Tridents game ended on Friday and TKR reached an unassailable 14 points, my sense was that on Sunday the home side might well earn an arguably surprising place in the top two.

And then when I saw the smiling face of former TKR manager Omar Khan in the GAW dugout yesterday, my instincts told me that there was no chance that the following case had not been made:

If in the semifinal you have to choose from among three opponents, one team led—forget the composition of the XI—by Chris Gayle, the other by Andre Russell and the third by Rayad Emrit or Chris Green or Jason Mohammed, which would be your choice?

Furthermore, if Gayle’s Patriots also boasted Evin Lewis and Glen Phillips among their players and Russell’s Tallawahs listed Rovman Powell and David Miller among theirs, would you worry about the hard-hitting Shimron Hetmeyer and Luke Ronchi being in the GAW ranks?

Photo: TKR captain Dwayne Bravo (left) takes evasive action as Jamaica Tallawahs captain Andre Russell smashes for six during their CPL outing at the Queen’s Park Oval on 10 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images)

Thirdly, temporarily ignoring the teams’ personnel and focusing narrowly on the performances so far this year, which of those three teams would you feel most confident against in your backyard? Having just been up against Gayle, would you relish the prospect of having to come up against Russell—or vice-versa?—in a few days’ time? Or would you prefer to leave to them the job of eliminating one the other?

Finally, when you have to play against STKNP or JT, wouldn’t you prefer to do so with the partisan Brian Lara Stadium crowd applauding every six and four you hit and every catch and wicket you take? Egging you on with their active support and no less actively discouraging the visiting opposition?

So it makes sense for the Knight Riders to be pleased that the Warriors did enough to leapfrog the Tallawahs into second spot. To do so, however, they had to emerge victorious on the night and in convincing fashion.

And that, it must be said, is where the shoe pinches.

One issue is how the recent tinkering with the batting order has affected TKR form. Chris Lynn’s departure means necessarily finding an opening partner for Narine, who will presumably resume normal service at the top of the order. But will DJB revert to the proven subsequent on-paper order of Colin Munro, Brendon McCallum, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin and himself, reserving the right to make adjustments, as he always does, depending on the on-field situation?

Photo: TKR opener Colin Munro goes on the attack during CPL action against the Guyana Amazon Warriors at the Queen’s Park Oval, POS on 5 September 2018.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Secondly, did TKR, having left out Ali Khan and Sunil Narine, expect their weakened line-up to hold off GAW? They must know that the better team on the night won. But, having won, the better team on the night is now a better team, which is the far more potentially dangerous spin-off effect of Sunday’s result.

Tomorrow, TKR will have to reckon with the formidable confidence boost and the considerable momentum given the home side by the nature of Sunday’s victory. It is worth remembering that the value of confidence is arguably greater at home, enhanced as it is by a vocal home crowd.

And so the Sherfane Rutherford who will if needed stride to the wicket tomorrow will, in his mind at least, be worth ten times the value of the Sherfane Rutherford who strode to the wicket on Sunday and amassed a much-needed whirlwind 45 off just 13 balls.

And then there are the imponderables like the toss and the weather, including the dew. And the pressure of the big occasion.

So we shall have to wait and see how it all plays out. After all, for all the heroics his team produced on Sunday evening, the current Warriors captain has a mere 36 T20 games under his belt, is just 24 and is, as his name reminds us, green.

Photo: Trinbago Knight Riders bowler Sunil Narine (third from left) celebrates capturing the wicket of Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman Chadwick Walton with teammates Dwayne Bravo (second from left) and Colin Munro (far left) during CPL Play Off action at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba on 7 September 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

His opposite number is ten years his senior, has a cricketing CV that attests to hundreds of T20 games as player and dozens of them as captain, and he also has a team that wants, as Ian Chappell recently said of Virat Kohli, to win for him.

Also, as Lara also reminded us, since the back-to-back defeats at the Queen’s Park Oval last month, TKR have had the bit between their teeth. As 2017 champions, they also have the taste of victory relatively fresh in their mouths.

And that sweet taste is shared by the TKR supporters, who have already put their hard-earned money where their mouths will be next Sunday, which is solidly behind the TKR.

They will come to Tarouba acutely aware of that other old people saying, which asserts that yuh cud make track fuh gouti to run on but lappe does make he own track.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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