A season of hopeful expectation ultimately unfounded
This year’s St Kitts and Nevis Patriots came into the Caribbean Premier League 2016 full of revitalized aspirations. A year on from their inaugural season in the CPL where they finished bottom, yet only one win from a finals berth, hopes were high. With new faces such as Faf Du Plessis, proven danger man Lendl Simmons and dominant T20 bowler Krishmar Santokie, fans were well within their rights to be excited. Alongside them, proven Patriots’superstars such as Tabraiz Shamsi and Evin Lewis gave a look of real strength to the franchise.
A painful couple of losses, which would lay the groundwork for a tough campaign, was how the Patriots began the competition. A Guyana team, in the opening game, chasing down a total with one ball to go proved damaging enough. However, the following match against Jamaica compounded misery when the Patriots fell just 6 runs short of an attainable total and victory after 20 overs. Determined to change their fortunes, in the following match the team took the bull by the proverbial horns by posting the second highest total of this year’s CPL against the St Lucia Zouks of 203-7. The Zouks managed to only reach 145 in their 20 overs and the Patriots’ ship was back on course.
Individual performances not the problem
Following their impressive dismantling of the Zouks, came a 5 game losing streak which all but ended the Patriots’ hopes of advancing to this year’s finals. Compounding their woes were particularly discouraging losses at the hands of the Guyana Amazon Warriors and the Jamaica Tallawahs where they managed to only attain scores of 108 and 75 respectively. Though there was mass disappointment throughout the season, what makes it even more difficult for the fans and players is that there were glimpses of true brilliance.
Evin Lewis shone at various points throughout the tournament especially his two 70+ runs performances once against the Zouks and more recently against the Trinbago Knight Riders, both games ending in the two victories of the campaign for the Patriots. Krishmar Santokie and Samuel Badree displayed their qualities on numerous occasions especially in the penultimate game of the season where both had opportunities to gain the first hat trick of wickets ever in the CPL. Tabraiz Shamsi until his injury woes struck was one of the more dominant bowlers in the competition. The problem was not quality of the players but rather producing quality performances collectively as a team.
Fitting end to the Season
It is perhaps appropriate the way in which the season for the Patriots ended in the beautiful Lauderhill, Florida. Whilst the season was over effectively for the Patriots, they had two final games both against the Knight Riders in the Sunshine State. From a Patriots perspective Pride was the only thing they were playing for. In the first of the two games, Evin Lewis’ 79 inspired the team to a convincing win by 34 runs after posting a formidable 180. However, in the following game, less than 48 hours later, the game was very different. Despite Lendl Simmons’ truly classy 60 not out, the Patriots posted just 137 runs. Ultimately, on the back of a professional 52 from Denesh Ramdin and a destructive 43 by Kiwi Brendon McCullum, the Knight Riders ran out easy winners with by 8 wickets with 18 balls remaining.
This ending of polarized games is a representation of the Patriots’ entire season. Real quality, class and ability let down by poor performances. However, this season is by no means a total disappointment. The CPL was taken to the United States and very well received in Florida. The St Kitts and Nevis Patriots franchise established real quality whilst there and represented the nation as well as cricket professionally and excitably with two very exciting matches of cricket. Given the circumstances, the Patriots played their final games with express pride which is all fans and supporters of the team wanted and needed to see. Whilst 2 wins from 10 games is by no means a success in this year’s CPL, a professional sports team of any kind representing St Kitts and Nevis at such a high level with such tremendous talents certainly is for the federation and the region as a whole.
The biggest party in sport may be over for the Patriots for the 2016 season but there is no doubt the fans, players and supporters from all over the world can not wait for retribution this time next year. The finals are still to be played in the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots’ backyard at the beautiful Warner Park which promises to be a beautiful backdrop to the closing of this year’s competition. Whilst the competition is over for the St Kitts’ and Nevis Patriots, the party certainly is not and we wish good luck to the final four teams; The Zouks, The Knight Riders, The Tallawahs and The Amazon Warriors; May the best team win!