With dominant performances from start to finish, the Trinbago Knight Riders claimed their fourth Hero CPL T20 title yesterday.
Their eight-wicket win over the St Lucia Zouks wasn’t the only victory of the tournament, however. This was also a victory for franchise cricket and sports with the successful staging of the tournament in a bio-secure bubble.
Comparisons will be made to the isolation zone created at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida by the National Basketball Association (NBA) but that was only in place from the final eight games of the 2019–20 regular season.
This tournament was also conducted differently from the West Indies’ tour of England earlier this year, so there will be important takeaways from this event for future games.
In the case of the CPL, the entire tournament took place in the bubble, with players and staff housed at the Hilton Trinidad and matches place at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy and the Queen’s Park Oval.
During the tournament, there was increased spread of COVID-19 in the country but not a single negative test was registered for anyone connected with the CPL. This sets a template for the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) which starts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on September 19.
The restricted conditions in which CPL 2020 was played make TKR’s win that much sweeter, as there were no crowds at the venues to provide the energy and mental boost athletes usually feed off for their strongest performances.
So it was remarkable that en route to that record-breaking win, Kieron Pollard’s squad did not drop a single game, winning all 12- a feat Guyana’s Amazon Warriors fell painfully short of achieving in last year’s final.
Kudos to the Zouks, first-time finalists and the most improved team in the CPL. Captain Darren Sammy and coach Andy Flowers get full marks for building a team that exceeded expectations.
But all six teams must be commended for giving fans around the world plenty to cheer about amid all the uncertainty and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They delivered high-calibre cricket to a broadcast and digital viewership that was larger than the 312 million who tuned in for the 2019 edition.
There was also exemplary work behind the scenes to ensure continuous broadcast of the matches to a huge global audience. In that regard, Guardian Media was privileged to play a role in that effort through CNC3, broadcast partner of Hero CPL 2020.
With the support of many sponsors, a sports event that at one point seemed unlikely to take place solidified its position as the world’s fastest-growing cricket tournament.
Hopefully, by the time the 2021 tournament comes around, fans will once more be able to attend in person and soak up cricket in the Carnival atmosphere that sets the Hero CPL apart.
Until then, hats off to all who contributed to the success of CPL 2020.