Forging alliances through Limacol’s CPL T20 – Verus International and the Caribbean’s favourite sport: Legends, Veterans, Fans

When an Equity company saw to inject a new strength into what was the Caribbean’s once Live-Or-Die sport, few imagined that Verus International would play such a vital role in reviving the glorious uncertainties of cricket in such a brief period bringing to mind the vitality in the sport known in the 70’s.

When the new millennium began, it was not uncommon for teens to be dabbling in soccer or basketball – Guyana had youth trying out for baseball just a few weeks ago. I suspect it was this ennui that led Ajmal Khan to create the Caribbean Premier League T20.

On the streets now, throughout the Caribbean, it is possible to hear phrases like “Tallawahs,” “Hawksbills,”and “Tridents” bandied about between young and old alike. The CPL T20 has united veterans and newcomers into a battalion of cricket warriors, not just for fans, but with the teams themselves…

When Trinidad earned their first victory in the inaugural Limacol CPL T20 Tournament, skipper Dwayne Bravo clearly lays the win at the feet of fellow Trinidadian and cricket legend, Brian Lara.

Bravo says he and the famous southpaw spoke at Lara’s place, and then took some time to urge the team on, which made the necessary difference – would Lara have been allowed such influence if there was no T20 tournament?

Another similarity where experience and freshness combine to make a formidable presence is right here in Bim – Kieron Pollard‘s leadership with the Barbados Tridents came in for high praise from head coach Desmond Haynes, who has likened the player’s captaincy skills to those of much heralded India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Haynes, himself no stranger to captaincy, said though he had recognised Pollard’s potential before, the Nevisian’s brilliance as a leader had been a revelation in the tournament. Plus the Trident’s sponsorship by popular Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg must have tickled Ajmal Khan’s fancy, apart from surprising many Bajans and Caribbean folk alike.

As CEO of Verus International, Khan has brokered many a delicate deal – but when has a department store, a medicinal liniment and an insurance brokerage all readily agree to participate? This indicates a financial savvy not seen in this region for quite some time… You’ll recall how Beacon Insurance signed on with the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel team and this was the third company to join in on the action with Red Steel.

But no cricket great or small, can be complete without acknowledgment nor blessing from classic great players…

When Barbados’ only living National Hero the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, hailed the emergence of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League as crucial to the development of cricket in the Caribbean, he also gave the thumbs up to Kieron Pollard leading the Barbados Tridents and put paid to many contentious calls made on radio call-in programmes.

Sir Garry (seen here with Ajmal Khan), arguably the finest cricketer the world has ever seen, said Twenty20 is important to the commercial survival of the game and lauded the fact that the Caribbean now had its own league of which to boast.

Sir Garry (seen here with Ajmal Khan), arguably the finest cricketer the world has ever seen, said Twenty20 is important to the commercial survival of the game and lauded the fact that the Caribbean now had its own league of which to boast.

Cricket would not survive if there were no spectators, so it should be no surprise how fans around the world are all now seeking to be a part of the awesome action of the inaugural Limacol CPL T20 Tournament with free LCPL Fantasy Cricket during the tournament., the world’s largest Fantasy Cricket platform, provided a gaming platform which allows cricket buffs to play fantasy cricket games during all the LCPLT20 matches.

Fans can choose their 11-player virtual dream team to play fantasy cricket for free every day and win a range of prizes such as team-autographed bats, t-shirts, tablets, and a flat screen TV.

The LCPL Fantasy Cricket application is available for BlackBerry, iPad and Android mobile systems. Clearly Verus International has its eye on technology as a means of saving and reviving what was once the Caribbean’s eat/sleep/breathe sport. But the teams cannot rely on veterans alone as well as established members, there have to be new infusions which keep the strengths flowing…

Where and what is Antrizle? It’s a tiny speck of a village on the east coast of the island of Dominica with a population of less than 700, but emerging from it is a rising star that just might cause mapmakers to reconsider giving it some space on Google maps.

Kavem Hodge, who turned 20 earlier this year on 21 February, is a middle-order batsman and left-arm spinner. He is one of only two Under-23 picks in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) draft for the St. Lucia Zouks franchise team and the youngest member of the team. When he began playing windball cricket on the beach in the seaside village where he grew up, he could not envisage a LCPL, let alone imagine that he would one day be drafted to play cricket for a franchise.

When the Antigua Hawksbills’ legendary coach, Sir Vivian Richards, picked Under-23 rising stars Jahmar Hamilton and Rahkeem Cornwall to bolster his 15 man squad for the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League, the cricket world sat up and took notice.

As different as chalk and cheese in approach and looks, these young men do share common goals, a passion for cricket and a desire to give the fans something to cheer for.

Anguilla-based wicket keeper Hamilton did not take cricket too seriously until he turned 13, when he tried hard ball cricket and found he loved it.

Hamilton will be sharing a dressing room with such luminaries as Marlon Samuels and Ricky Ponting but also another rising star, Rahkeem Cornwall, who at 6ft 7in is the tallest, and at 20-years old, the youngest member of the team..

So it is clear when Ajmal Khan turned his eye from investment to cricket, he really was staying with his principal interest – since cricket is an investment with the Caribbean’s past, present & future!

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