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CPL 2021: How a Champion and a ‘Dom’ gave the Patriots their champagne moment

“[…] Then came the finale, the most thrilling CPL final in the tournament’s nine-year existence. The home upstarts SKN Patriots, representing the Leeward Islands against the dominant St Lucia Kings, representing the Windward Islands.

“[…] Videos were out, shade being thrown by all supporters. Memes galore. So much fun and banter. Excitement non-stop.

“[…] The Kings are a good team, a tough team led by another wily veteran, Andre Fletcher. They punked us in the first few games, I suppose as a response to Dwayne Bravo’s quip about them being the queens. (LOL)…”

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots captain Dwayne Bravo (left) and all-rounder Fabian Allen celebrate the fall of another GAW wicket with a jig during CPL T20 action at Warner Park on 29 August 2021.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

The following is the second of a two-part guest column on the rise of the 2021 CPL cricket champions, the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, from cricket fan Kenneth Bobb, who was born in Trinidad but has lived in Bird Rock, Basseterre for the past decade and is the host of weekly radio talk show, The Bench Meeting:

Once the CPL kicked off, the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots were ready and firing. One game, two games, three games on the trot. Whoa! This thing is real. It’s happening! 

Game four and five in the bag; we almost qualify already and the competition just reach ‘the halfway mark’. Talk about belief!

Then the St Lucia Kings put two sound lickings on us, humbling blows. Like when you’re the last child. It’s the one just above you that does bully you. 

Photo: St Lucia Kings wicket-keeper and stand-in captain Andre Fletcher (left) celebrates the dismissal of SKNP batsman Chris Gayle during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Ne on 4 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Well, the Kings showed no remorse. They were in fact building on their second-place finish last season. So these guys were always going to be a daunting prospect and they showed us up.

It’s true we were missing captain Dwayne ‘DJ’ Bravo. But you play with who is available and we weren’t good enough. 

Then bam! the actual Tallawahs drop a blow in we back. Problems now. Three losses on the trot. To qualify, we needed to win at least one game against the reigning champs and juggernauts, the Trinbago Knight Riders. 

Thankfully Evin Lewis was in an ebullient mood and we were able to share the joy of him achieving, when it mattered most, his first CPL century against his homeland franchise above all others,

We were in the semis. The other loss to the TKR was accepted as we made top four at the expense of the beleaguered Royals and the inconsistent Tallawahs. Our semi was plotted against the supremely talented but perennial bridesmaids the Guyana Amazon Warriors, my preferred choice of opposition.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots wicket-keeper Joshua da Silva (right) stumps Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman Shoaib Malik during the 2021 Hero CPL semi-final at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 14 September 2021 .
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

I said to one fellow fan: “If we want to be the best, we have to beat the best.” I did not want us to face either TKR or the Kings in the semi, I wanted a final spot and, given that we spanked them twice in the earlier rounds, the GAW seemed to me to be the most vulnerable of the top four. 

Win we did, CG (Chris Gayle), Evin and DJ made it look easier than it was but it was hard-fought, with contributions from everyone. All hands on deck!

Given his immense experience and knowledge of the opposition threats, DJ’s captaincy proved crucial in all these latter matches.

Then came the finale, the most thrilling CPL final in its nine-year existence. The home upstarts SKN Patriots, representing the Leeward Islands against the dominant St Lucia Kings, representing the Windward Islands.

CPL CEO Pete Russell could not have scripted this better himself. This was the epitome of success for the CPL as the two smallest franchises faced off in an entirely unforeseen battle for the ultimate prize. 

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots supporters enjoy the show during 2021 CPL season at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Videos were out, shade being thrown by all supporters. Memes galore. So much fun and banter. Excitement non-stop.

Our big brother and sister franchises and supporters each had their choice of who they supporting as their team was out. After all, there are representatives of each of their countries in the squad. So they all became patriots for the day and I’m sure they all felt that euphoria even if to a lesser extent.

The Kings are a good team, a tough team led by another wily veteran, Andre Fletcher. They punked us in the first few games, I suppose as a response to Bravo’s quip about them being the queens. (LOL). 

This was a final for the record. Maybe for the first 15 overs of the Kings’ first innings, I felt we were winning. But that changed with a few swift blows from Keemo Paul to close out their 20 overs. 

A total of 159 was gettable but very daunting. The rest was nail-biting, heart-pounding, agonising viewing. CG gone for a four-ball duck, Evin gone early, still smarting from the falls he took during his fielding performance. 

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Joshua da Silva (right) cuts to the boundary for four while St Lucia Kings wicket-keeperand stand-in captain Andre Fletcher looks on during the CPL final at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 15 September 2021 .
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Up steps da Silva—West Indian upstart, smart-talking Test keeper—and Sherfane Rutherford. If some are honest, not much was expected. But they both held their nerves long enough to see off the Powerplay. Bravo came and departed cheaply, run rate going up and wickets falling. Kings bowling and fielding impeccably. 

We were on the ropes. 

That Dominic Drakes was the hero tells the entire story in and of itself. Vasbert’s son or carbon copy kept his composure and beat the leather off the ball in his 24-ball 48. We were expecting Fabian to do it but he hasn’t been in full batting flight all season. 

So when he went on 20, some thought it was all over. At least, Daren Sammy did!

Ten needed from six balls. Then nine from six and eight from five. Lawd! I can’t even remember how it went cuz I thought up until the second-to-last ball that the Kings had done enough. 

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Dominic Drakes heaves a delivery over the off-side boundary for six during the 2021 Hero CPL final against the St Lucia Kings at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 15 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

But Dom had other thoughts. Kesrick Williams missed his line by a kn and Dom dispatched it, sending the entire franchise into wild celebrations. My heart couldn’t handle it. 

The last ball was a hit and run. No super over today.

Tip and run. They did just that. 

The eruption was heard all over Basseterre and resonated around the world. The Patriots had done it! 

We won, we won! All the ups and downs. All the heckle, all the pressure.  Well, sah, we won!

Won one for the record books.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis batsman Dominic Drakes (right) gets a hug from teammate Joshua da Silva after his match-winning knock against the St Lucia Kings in the 2021 Hero CPL final in Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 15 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Congrats to the team, coaching staff and management for a job well done.

My Patriots, the CPL T20 2021 Champions!

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