CPL: Who should make the Amazon Warriors starting XI?
Asks Akeem Greene
The sixth edition of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) bowled off last evening with defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders completely outplaying St. Lucia Stars, winning by 100 runs at the Queen’s Park Oval.
For the Guyana Amazon Warriors, they restart the quest for a maiden title when they clash with 2017 runners-up St Kitts Patriots today (August 9) at the National Stadium, Providence, from 18:00h.
Amazon Warriors are replete with players who essentially perform the same role and to some extent lack the cutting-edge of a world-class dynamo with bat or ball.
For this reason, they would need to be cognisant of conditions, oppositions’ weaknesses and players’ experiences when they select the best possible XI from their 18-man squad.
Luke Ronchi and Chadwick Walton is a straightforward opening pick. In 2017, Ronchi, in just four matches, scored 172 runs at average of 57.33 and most importantly had a strike rate of over 179.
Walton had a stupendous tournament, racking up 458 runs in 12 matches, finishing as the leading runs-scorer.
Mid-season, Warriors management had elevated left-hander Sohail Tanveer to open with Walton and play a pinch-hitting role and also bring a new a challenge to the opposition with the left/right hand combination. It didn’t come to fruition as Tanveer only made 76 in five innings with a best of 38 from 29 balls.
Given Windies young batting star Shimron Hetmyer will be available for the entire duration of the tournament, he should slot in perfectly at number three and is left-handed so he adds variety at the top.
The 21-year-old has only played three T20s, but with two One Day International centuries this year – one at Providence last month against Bangladesh- he could be a firecracker at the top.
For number four, captain Shoaib Malik will be key. He is the team’s most experienced player and was the backbone of the Barbados Tridents, whom he played for the previous five seasons and his crafty off-spin will be handy.
There is some gloom as Malik, who has become an integral part of Pakistan’s limited overs side, might have to depart the tournament prematurely to prepare with his homeland for the Asia Cup which commences on September 15 in the UAE.
At five, Jason Mohammed should retain his spot in the team, despite being woefully out-of-form in 2018 for Windies. He has not been able to reach 20 in seven matches (ODIs & T20Is). However, in the past he has been a saviour for the Warriors on numerous occasions and was their second leading runs-scorer with 292 runs in 2017.
His career T20 strike rate is 99.31, but he was a touch above that with 106.19 in the 2017 CPL. Those numbers could become a concern if he does get the type of big and match-winning scores that have been lacking lately.
Next in line is the dynamic Sherfane Rutherford, whom I believe will be critical to Warriors either posting or chasing big scores.
He is just 20, but packs a significant punch which was seen in Canada’s Global T20 where he made a belligerent, unbeaten 134 for the Windies B team.
The left-hander is free-flowing and should management give him the license to express himself, opposition bowlers could be in for a nightmare.
Chris Green’s unknown qualities could make him a surprise package. A tall off-spinning all-rounder, Green would be handy against St. Kitts Patriots’ Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis who did the bulk of scoring last season. Getting one or both of them early would increase the Warriors’ chances immensely.
Keemo Paul is a genuine all-rounder. Recently, Windies Head Coach Stuart Law exclaimed he is one for the future. However, the role he has been asked to perform is more with the ball and more specifically in the ‘death’ overs.
In 2017, Paul went at 7.77, which is decent. In the just concluded three-match T20 series with Bangladesh he got six wickets, but went at 8.09.
It would mean that Rayad Emrit, with over a 100 T20s under his belt, will have to take the lead in this regard, backed up by Tanveer.
Once it swings, Tanveer will be a threat with the new ball and given he has one of the fastest fifties in the league, he is no mug with the bat.
CPL has increased the number of overseas players in the starting XI from four to five which means South African spin ace Imran Tahir adds to the final piece of the puzzle. The leg-spinner is known for his constant googly and other variations.
Providence is no longer a slow and low turner like years gone by, but spin will still pose issues for batsmen and Tahir’s international quality must come to light.
Guyanese spin twins Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo might be a bit hard-pressed to feature in the XI, likewise pacer Romario Shepherd, who has developed his ‘death’ bowling considerably.
My playing XI for the first match: Chadwick Walton, Luke Ronchi+, Shimron Hetmyer, Shoaib Malik*, Jason Mohammed, Sherfane Rutherford, Chris Green, Keemo Paul, Sohail Tanveer, Rayad Emrit and Imran Tahir.