The 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will be with us before we know it. To whet your appetite, here are five of our favourite knocks from the 2016 edition. These guys went big!
Chris Gayle 108* (54) vs Trinbago Knight Riders
No list of great innings from the Hero CPL would be complete without an entry from the Universe Boss himself. Chris Gayle made the highest score of last year’s tournament when he scored 108 not out as he chased down a massive total with real ease. The Trinbago Knight Riders had made an impressive 191 for four from their 20 overs, but thanks to Gayle his Jamaica Tallawahs won with 10 balls unused.
Gayle struck 11 sixes during his stay at the crease as he put down an early marker of what he and the Jamaican side was capable of. Gayle’s runs were the foundation on which the Tallawahs built their championship win last season, and this century in the seventh match put the rest of the teams on notice that the big man was in form.
Andre Russell - 100 (44) vs Trinbago Knight Riders
There is little more thrilling than watching Dre Russ boom massive shots over the boundary for six, but remarkably he had never made a T20 hundred before last year’s Hero CPL. He fixed that against the Trinbago Knight Riders when the Jamaica Tallawahs won in Qualifier 2 to make it to the CPL final.
Russell walked the to crease batting at number six with his side in trouble at 67 for four in the 10th over, and it looked as if the Tallawahs would post a sub-par total in this must-win game. Then he just let loose on a bowling attack that included both Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo.
Russell smashed 11 sixes and three fours as he reached his hundred from just 42 balls to helped the Tallawahs to 195-7 off their 20 overs. Rain meant that the target for the Knight Riders was reduced to 130 from 12 overs and apart from a partnership between Hashim Amla and Colin Munro they struggled. In the end the Tallawahs won by 20 runs, and the main reason for the victory was this magical knock by Russell.
Colin Munro - 100 (65) vs Guyana Amazon Warrirors
No overseas players had scored a hundred in the Hero CPL before New Zealand’s Colin Munro made his undefeated century against the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the fifth match of last year’s tournament. The Knight Riders were struggling having lost Brendon McCullum to the first ball of the match and Hashim Amla for just six runs.
The next highest scorer in the Knight Riders innings was Dwayne Bravo with 18. But for Munro’s wonderful innings that both rebuilt the innings and allowed the Knight Riders to set a competitive total his team could have been shot out for under 100.
It wasn’t enough to secure the win, a superb 77 from 43 balls from Chris Lynn (an innings that almost made this list) saw the Amazon Warriors win with four balls to spare, but it was fantastic nonetheless.
Johnson Charles 97* (52) vs Guyana Amazon Warriors
During the 2016 Hero CPL the home venue of the St Lucia Stars was renamed “Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium” to justifiable fanfare. What may have passed some by is that one of the stands was named after Johnson Charles. The St Lucian batsman celebrated this honour by planting sixes into the area of the ground bearing his name as he made 97 not out from 52 balls and shared an unbeaten stand of 151. The Stars beat the Guyana Amazon Warriors with 23 balls to spare.
Charles was brutal to all the bowlers, but he saved the worst punishment for Orlando Peters who sent down five balls to Charles which cost 17 runs including two massive Hero Maximums. It was breathtaking from the local boy.
Umar Akmal 73* (35) vs St Lucia Stars
There were higher scores than this one in the CPL last season, but only Andre Russell’s century came at a higher strike rate than the 73 not out that Umar Akmal managed against the St Lucia Stars. The Knight Riders were 38-3 when Akmal came to the crease, and it got worse from there when the Trinidad & Tobago team found themselves five wickets down with just 63 runs on the board in the 10th over.
With the St Lucians having set a target of 168 to win the run rate was at over 10-an-over and half the side had been dismissed.
This didn’t seem to bother Akmal as he accelerated brilliantly having got himself set. He was on 20 from 16 balls when he scored 17 runs from one Grant Elliot over. It got better when he faced Jerome Taylor for the 17th over of the innings – he went from 44 to 62 with three consecutive sixes. The Knight Riders won by three wickets with six balls left, and that was thanks to Akmal’s brilliance.