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Spotlight on: Barbados Tridents

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By Author CPL
The Tridents entered the 2015 Caribbean Premier League as defending champions but fell just short of becoming the first franchise to win the tournament in successive seasons, after defeat in the final.
 
Nevertheless it was another strong season for the team from Barbados, led by the irrepressible Kieron Pollard.
 
We review their key moments, pick out the players who shone and assess their hopes for next year’s competition…
 
 
Key stats
 
Played 10 W 6 L 4
 
Table: 1st
 
Play-off result: FINAL - LOST by 20 runs to the Red Steel
 
Leading run-scorer: Kieron Pollard (303 runs @ 37.87)
 
Leading wicket-taker: Kieron Pollard (14 wickets @ 16.07) and Robin Peterson (14 wickets @ 16.35)
 
Three things that went well
 
Finishing top of the table. In their quest to defend their crown, the Tridents will have been delighted with the opening part of their tournament, winning four of their opening five games to effectively secure a play-off spot after the first 10 games of the competition. While their form then became patchy, comprehensive wins against the Tallawahs in Jamaica and the Amazon Warriors in Guyana  also showed the mettle of this team in hostile environments and resulted in an automatic progression to the final.
 
Unlike many of the other franchises one of the biggest positives for the Tridents proved to be the contribution from their overseas stars. Pakistani batsman Shoaib Malik led the way, topping the Tridents’ averages, while South African Robin Peterson was joint-leading wicket-taker for the franchise, with 14 victims. The performances of these two internationals allowed other less experienced members of the squad to find their feet in the tournament.
 
The outfielding. Led by the captain Kieron Pollard, the Tridents’ set the standards high when it came to fielding in the 2015 competition. Their catching, throughout the six weeks, was exemplary with Pollard pulling off one of the grabs of tournament at short leg against the Tallawahs in Match 21. Meanwhile, Dwayne Smith showed fantastic agility, pulling off many boundary-saving dives.
 
What didn’t go so well
 
As well as the Tridents started the tournament, they were disappointed not to maintain their superiority across the six weeks of the tournament. While Kieron Pollard admitted post-tournament it would always be difficult to maintain a high level of performance in every match, there was a sense of belief within the Tridents camp that they were destined to defend their title. For the first fortnight of the tournament, they comfortably looked the best franchise only to fail at the final hurdle.
 
The opening bowling pair of Jason Holder and Ravi Rampaul. While both enjoyed decent tournaments, taking six and 11 wickets respectively, their control with the ball did not match the standards of 2014. Both conceded around eight runs an over - up from six in 2014 - which was particularly noticeable at the death of innings. The result was, on many occasions, the Tridents requiring to chase larger totals than they would have expected.
 
The search for a number three. In the early part of the tournament there was no issue with Malik in scintillating form, but his late call-up to Pakistan robbed the franchise of key player. With no apparent back-up or replacement the Tridents tried several solutions, but batting depth will be an area that they will look to address ahead of 2016.
 
Best moment
 
Given the controversial ending to the final in 2014 final, some had doubted the Tridents’ credentials as champions. Those were firmly put to bed in the first fixture of 2015 with Pollard’s team dominating the Amazon Warriors, in a rematch of last year’s final, in what was undoubtedly a statement victory. In the lead up to the match Holder stressed that the men in blue would prove why they were defending title holders and so it proved, as the Tridents ran out 49-run winners in front of a partisan capacity crowd at the Kensington Oval on opening night.
 
Season MVP
 
No man is more deserving of this award than skipper Kieron Pollard, who was magnificent throughout the competition. His statistics only tell half the story, with the all-rounder leading both the run-scoring and wicket-taking charts for the Tridents. But more than that, his all-round leadership was unparalleled. For a Trinidadian to be taken in by the Barbadian population as “one of their own” speaks volumes. Coupled with his never-say-die attitude and positive outlook that life is bigger than cricket, there was arguably no player more important to his franchise than Pollard.
 
The player we are going to hear more about...
 
Steven Taylor. The young American was one of two ICC Associate nation players to earn a full contract for the first time in CPL history. While the 22-year-old had to wait until the end of the tournament to make his debut, the left-hander impressed at the top of the order with his power hitting and, more importantly, appeared to be unfazed by the big occasion. If this brief glimpse is anything to go by, not only will Taylor return to the tournament in 2016 but it may also open up more opportunities for other Associate nation players to experience the Biggest Party in Sport.
 
What they said
 
"We needed to bring our A-game to the final and we weren’t quite up to scratch but that’s how it goes. At the end of the day it’s just a cricket game and life goes on. The guys understood where we went wrong and, you know, we just have to move on from this" - Tridents captain Kieron Pollard on failing to defend the title
 
Hopes for 2016
 
While the Red Steel will return in 2016 as defending champions, it will be hard not to make the Tridents tournament favourites next season. Unlike the other five franchises, there are only minor changes required to the squad and it is more a case of adding squad depth rather than needing to pick up players to fill slots in a starting XI. With Pollard’s leadership skills continuing to flourish and if players, such as Holder and Rampaul, return to their form of 2014, then the franchise will be a formidable opposition.

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Spotlight on: Barbados Tridents CPL T20

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