The Tallawahs finished fourth in a six-team race despite boasting the likes of Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Glenn Phillips and a handful of spin options on slow tracks. While the expectation from the franchise was set sky-high in 2016, after their second CPL win, the disappointment of 2020 should still linger in the minds of the faithful.
One point was the difference between the Tallawahs making it to the qualifier stage and crashing out of the competition, even when they won their first game of the season. Racking up two wins in their first games of the season, there was no chance in the world that they would have ended up with just three wins in the tournament.
But such has been their history in the competition, they would definitely start as one of the contenders for the tournament, under Rovman Powell’s leadership. However, can they do it without the services of Glenn Phillips, the man behind majority of their success with the bat?
From the last season, the Tallawahs have made a few changes to their squad, most notably the addition of Chris Green, who previously led the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the competition. The franchise has also added Shamarh Brooks in the setup, with the 32-year-old averaging 18.60 with the bat, at a strike rate of 115.52.
On the other hand, they would be without the services of the Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and Afghanistan cricketer Ibrahim Zadran, who were earlier added in the draft to boost the side. To add to misery, the franchise would be without Glenn Phillips, who has done bulk of their run-scoring in the past three seasons.
It doesn’t quite end there, they don’t even have the services of Jermaine Blackwood, who formed the core of their middle-order last season, putting them in an ultimate coup. The two made up for 36.45 % of the Tallawahs runs last year.
When a side as explosive as the Tallawahs take the field, there is set to be fireworks, they only left 0.9% of their deliveries, least in the tournament. But the pitches on offer in the 2020 edition of the tournament turned out to be exactly the opposite of it, all teams barring the Trinbago Knight Riders suffered at the hands of the slow conditions.
Despite that, the Jamaican side finished the tournament with 1338 runs, with the fourth least wickets lost (64) while having the third-best average runs per wicket (20.9). They also scored the third-most fours in the tournament (88) and second in terms of most sixes scored (62), with a boundary every 7.9th delivery, third-best tally in the tournament.
While their top order was most definitely aided by the presence of Phillips, most of their runs came from the middle-order, which scored 621 runs last year, averaging 20 runs per wicket, second best in the competition. With the addition of Brooks in their middle-order setup and the addition of Chris Green, the franchise would have more than an able batting strength to challenge the other sides.
More notably in the 2020 season, with a boundary percentage of 54.1%, the Tallawahs were the second best side in the competition on scoring boundaries. With the absence of Jermaine Blackwood, the responsibility would be on Andre Russell, who was one run behind Kieron Pollard as the top run-scorer at the death. Can he fire for them more this season?
There seems to be a real possibility that the Tallawahs can finish at the bottom of the table, especially considering how they haven’t quite replaced the caliber of players with the same caliber. But despite the absence of Phillips and Blackwood, the weakness arguably still lies in their bowling unit.
Where to start? Last season in the powerplay, the Jamaican-based side picked up 24 wickets with the ball, on the back of their pace unit, conceding 34.2 runs per wicket, the highest in the league. Their 23.6 balls/wicket is also incidentally the most a team has bowled before going on to pick a wicket despite having bowled the second highest overs with pace.
With spin bowling, the franchise last season had their trust in Sandeep Lamichhane, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Veerasammy Permaul, who in between them picked 33 wickets in the competition, at an average of 17.58, 13.56 and 25.60 respectively. This season, the franchise hasn’t managed to retain two of them, which puts the responsibility on the shoulders of Chris Green and Qais Ahmad and the last standing, Permaul.
Notably, Qais walks into the Caribbean Premier League on the back of his worst year in T20 cricket, with just 16 wickets thus far and an average of 29.7, the highest in a calendar year in his career. Even the strike-rate (25.9) would definitely weaken the Tallawahs’ bowling unit more than last year.
And Chris Green too, isn’t an exception, he too has suffered a dip in form, with just 14 wickets in the calendar year, averaging 31.1 and conceding at 8.9 runs per over, which in contrast to his career economy rate (7) puts the franchise in a dreaded spot. Can they upstage this?
Probable First-Choice XI
With Glenn Phillips gone, the Tallawahs have to work around their batting order, which could see skipper Rovman Powell open the innings with Jason Mohammed, and Haider Ali slipping at No.3. The inclusion of Brooks should come at number four, accompanied with Chadwick Walton at five. The trio of all-rounders – Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite and Migael Pretorius – should form the lower-core of the XI. Unfortunately, Brathwaite is most likely to miss out on the first encounter, with his quarantine period.
The duo of Chris Green and Qais Ahmed will provide them with the required spin attack, with Green even offering an option for the franchise with the new ball, a place that they have struggled previously. It is expected that Fidel Edwards, who returned last season to the franchise will retain his place.
Lineup : Rovman Powell (C) , Jason Mohammed, Haider Ali, Shamarh Brooks, Chadwick Walton (WK), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Migael Pretorius, Chris Green, Qais Ahmed, Fidel Edwards
The Tallawahs will lock horns with St Lucia Kings in their opening fixture on August 27.