Mental toughness, world-level players lifted Tallawahs – Nixon
A Tough attitude as well as world-class players were some of the main areas identified by Jamaica Tallawahs coach Paul Nixon why they were able to capture their second title in the fourth HERO Motocorp Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition.
Nixon, a former England international who returned to the team this season after guiding them to tournament honours in 2013, made the observation on the basis of Jamaica Tallawahs' rally from three late-season defeats to top the championship.
"We knew we would have had blimps, but it was about remaining consistent in our behaviours, our standards and our processes," stated Nixon, who returned to the position following the departure of South African coach Mickey Arthur to the Pakistan national cricket team.
"One can easily make mistakes by batting a ball down somebody's throat or bowl a bad ball. But it was about not getting carried away. It was about keeping calm, breathing in pressure situations, taking time out during a game to clear one's head for some good decision making. That's exactly what these lads did and I am very proud.''
Leaders of the six-team tournament for much of the preliminary round, Jamaica lost their last two first round matches to eventual semi-finalists, St Lucia Zouks, in Florida, before also going down to Guyana Amazon Warriors in the first play-off of the semi-finals.
REBOUND INTO FINAL
However, on the back of a shot-filled century from leading all-rounder, Andre Russell, they rebounded and defeat dethroned last year's winners, Trinbago Knight Riders, in the second semi-final encounter, which sent them into the final.
Man of the Match, Pakistan leg-spinner Imad Wasim and captain Chris Gayle, who smashed a half century, then led the victory charge in the final.
Nixon, a former wicketkeeper-batsman, explained that while away from the Tallawahs he took time out to upgrade his coaching qualifications with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
He also credited veterans Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and South African speedster Dale Steyn for setting high standards.
"When you've got the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Dale Steyn setting the mindset and standards expected of the players from the outset we were always going to be in a good place," he explained.
"Then there were the X-factor players in Gayle and Russell, who we knew would shine and show how tough they were."
Nixon also expressed pleasure at the talent of regional players (exhibited throughout the tournament) and believes this augurs well for West Indies' cricket.
"The talent in the West Indies blows me away. If we could just a little bit lift the facilities, lift the net facilities, lift the wickets, tweak the coaching, I promise you, the West Indies will be a force to reckon with," he said.