Management of the local Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise Barbados Tridents will be at pains this year to impress on fans that the Tridents are their team.
During CPL 2016 after Barbadian Twenty20 specialist Dwayne Smith was drafted by the Guyana Amazon Warriors, several Barbadians said on call-in radio shows they were not “feeling the Tridents” because no major Barbadian cricketer was a member of the team.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY chief executive officer of the franchise, Jason Harper, stressed that the Tridents was Barbados’ franchise team with heavy national elements to it.
“I think the discussion about not feeling the team is a really difficult one for us to answer in one snap and go. That’s like a really broad topic. If not feeling the team means we did not have a lot of national engagement and did not do a lot of things in the community we acknowledge that. We did not do a lot of things in the community last year and maybe that was our downfall. We are trying to change that. We are trying to get Barbadians to realise that four players on the team are Barbadians. Originally there were five Bajans on the team but we lost Reifer (Raymon) after he was selected for the West Indies’ tour to England.
“Eighty percent of the Tridents’ staff is Bajan. [One might] want to say that we did not have a lot of national engagement. We did not do a lot of things in the community last year so that was our downfall. But we are trying to change that, we are trying to get Barbadians to realise that five guys on the team, four now because we have lost Reifer (Raymon), are from Barbados. Eighty percent of the staff is Bajan, the team is run by a Barbadian CEO. It is still a quintessential Barbadian team but we are playing in a different format of the game than we are used to and it has taken people time to get used to that concept,” Harper said.
He stated the Tridents had embarked on a community outreach programme to strengthen their ties with the public.
“We intend to go out into communities. Last Friday (July 29) the team practised in Brereton, St Philip. We are here for a pretty long period towards the end of the tournament from August 23 to the 29 so that gives us seven or eight days to engage the community. We will probably go to several grounds throughout the island to practise. We are hoping to get people to come out and see the team, get their autographs signed and buy jerseys, not necessarily to buy tickets, but to engage the Tridents,” Harper said.
According to Harper, the rationale for taking the Tridents back to the community was to show the public it was still their team.
“It is still the Tridents Pride of Barbados. It’s not a national team under the national regulations. But in franchise cricket, the team still got to represent the place where it is domiciled with pride,” he explained.
The Tridents held a week long camp which ended today.
“This year we wanted to get a jump on everybody else by getting the regional players in. It was more for assessment purposes. We just wanted to see what their fitness levels were at, we know that a lot of our international guys including Wayne Parnell, Kane Williamson, Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz are fit. Although Riaz picked up an injury, he played in the Champions Trophy, so we know where there are at because we have been in constant contact with their teams,” the CEO said.
“We want to have our regional players in a camp to see where they are at. A lot of them are playing club cricket, so we just wanted to see what we have to work with going into the first matches on the 5th and 6th of August. Nine of the regional players are in the camp, it is just the beginning, the first part of putting the guys together and seeing how it would work on the field. We have all of the statistical data to see what they can do. But in this environment in the T20 game, you need to execute on the day, so it’s an opportunity for us to have everybody in camp, the local and regional players here and then everyone meets up a day ahead of time in Fort Lauderdale before our first two matches there,” Harper stated.
In 2016, the Tridents had a dismal season losing their last four matches. Harper said this was due to some notable departures of international players who were recalled for national duty by their respective countries. He admitted this hurt the Tridents in their final matches.
“As a result, we had to pull players off the bench and fly in cricketers to play matches which was difficult also. This year, we have only drafted or retained players who will be with us for the entire duration of the season. We are extremely confident because we have boosted our batting with the additions of local boy Dwayne Smith coming back home, and bringing the New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to open the batting with Dwayne,” he noted.
He added: “On paper, the Tridents are really a formidable team. We have that balance in terms of batting and bowling, we have shored that up, Parnell is back from South Africa, we have Riaz who is one of the top bowlers from Pakistan with us. I think we have the right mix of players who post or chase a score. I believe we have the players that can do well and probably win this tournament.”
The Tridents left Barbados today for Florida. The CPL starts August 4.