Full of confidence - Jamaica Tallawahs optimistic of winning CPL T20
Reunited with coach Paul Nixon, who led local-based Caribbean Premier League (CPL) cricket franchise Jamaica Tallawahs to the inaugural CPL T20 title, that coach, his charges and team management have expressed confidence at winning the competition this year.
Those sentiments were commonplace as Foska Oats, main sponsor of the Jamaican franchise, reiterated their commitment yesterday at their hosting of a breakfast/brunch which was held at the Melbourne Cricket Club in Kingston.
"The team has grown significantly since we began this sponsorship relationship, with the inclusion of young, fresh talents," said John Ramson, chairman of Caribbean Foods Limited (CFL), manufacturers of Foska Oats.
"We look forward to a fantastic and competitive League and we stand once again behind our Jamaica Tallawahs, who we are confident will lift the CPL trophy once again."
The fourth renewal will bowl off later today, with Trinidad & Tobago Knight Riders vs St Lucia Zouks in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The Tallawahs will play their opening game against the Patriots in Basseterre, St Kitts on Saturday, July 2.
Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara, big-hitting Jamaican Christopher Gayle and South African bowler Dale Steyn are their marquee players.
Other world-class foreign cricketers include Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Imad Wasim (Pakistan) and Alex Ross and Timroy Allen, both of Australia.
The squad is balanced by local and West Indies players Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton, Andre McCarthy, Keswick Williams, John Russ Jaggesear and Gaery Mathurin.
Paul Nixon, the 2013 winning coach, replaced Junior Bennett.
"Can't wait. The biggest party in sport is about to happen, preparations have been going really well," Nixon said.
When comparing the composition of the 2013 team and this one, he said: "We've got slightly more depth in our spinning department. Great all round squad, we are strong in spirit and strong in might."
Nixon stressed that there is no pressure on himself to lead the franchise back to winning ways.
"No pressure to deliver. Pressure is what you put on yourself. The guys and I, I've got my job to do with each individual player. We are a positive bunch, we make sure we have our standards and will continue our improvements. I don't see any pressure, the guys will go out and enjoy their cricket, they wanna go out and win it and all we can do is do our very, very best," he told The Gleaner.
Andrew Richardson, who played on that winning team and is now the team manager, is optimistic.
"We are definitely confident going into this tournament. We have a good balance with a team of experience and youth. Preparation has been going very well, players have been arriving as the days go by and they have been putting in the work," he explained.
Meanwhile, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, Minister of Sports, lauded Caribbean Foods for supporting the Tallawahs brand.
"Four years of commitment to the Jamaica Tallawahs is an indication of the interest in aiding, promotion and building of the brand Jamaica is on the world stage," she said.
"We commend the Tallawah brand and of course our world-class players for shining the spotlight on the region, and of course Jamaica," added Grange.
Mohammad Khan, part owner and general manager of Tallawahs, said they have invested to make the team more balanced this year.
"We put a lot of good young players together, we try to add a lot of really good players, a lot of the guys are maybe not known to the Jamaican public, but trust me, they are gonna be known. You are gonna see some superstars coming from the Jamaica Tallawahs," said Khan.