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Spotlight on: Jamaica Tallawahs!

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By Author CPL
Champions in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League in 2013, the Jamaica Tallawahs entered this season with one goal in mind - to regain the title they had lost in 2014. 
 
While, ultimately, failing to achieve their aim, one man in yellow once again proved why he will go down as one of the greatest players to grace the game as our third franchise review now considers…
 
Key stats
 
Played 10 W 4 L 5 NR 1
 
Table: 4th
 
Play-off result: 1st playoff semi-final - LOST by 27 runs to the Red Steel
 
Leading run-scorer: Chris Gayle (405 runs @ 61.42)
 
Leading wicket-taker: Krishmar Santokie (16 wickets @ 19.75)
 
Three things that went well
 
Chris Gayle. The Tallawahs captain was in inspirational form, scoring a ridiculous 430 runs - 61 runs more than the next best batsmen - at a staggering average of 61.42. The left-handed opener, dubbed ‘World Boss’, lived up to his nickname as he topped the six-hitting chart with 33 and scored the only century of the tournament in Match 18 against the Red Steel. His achievements should be considered even more remarkable given the fact the 36-year-old was suffering with a long-standing back problem, which required surgery at the end of the competition.
 
While Gayle proved to the inspiration with the bat, Krishmar Santokie was the catalyst with the ball. Returning to his home island franchise, the left-arm quick proved for a third straight season that he is one of the most skilful T20 bowlers in the Caribbean. Whether it was with the new ball at the start of the innings or at the death, Santokie’s mixture of lengths, delivery angle and paces resulted in 16 wickets at average of 19.75 - only second to Dwayne Bravo in the leading wicket-takers list. In fact, Santokie’s consistency in the CPL must be respected with the 30-year-old now having taken 16 or more wickets in every year of the competition.
 
The Jamaican's skill didn’t just prove to be with the ball, however, as the Tallawahs’ talents shone in the field on numerous occasions, highlighted by Santokie’s outstanding over-the-shoulder catch against the Zouks in match 8. Led by the phenomenal athletic ability of Andre Russell, the whole squad pulled off numerous circus style catches and brilliant run outs to wow many of the Caribbean crowds throughout the time in the tournament.
 
Three things that didn’t go so well
 
Gayle aside, the much-vaunted batting line-up proved to be the Tallawahs’ undoing in the tournament. While ‘World Boss’ enjoyed a stellar six weeks, it was obvious that the men in yellow became over reliant on their captain’s runs. On the rare occasions that Gayle failed, the rest of the batsmen failed to live up to expectations with Sri Lanka superstar Mahela Jayawardena the epitome of the Tallawahs’ batting woes, returning a scarcely believable 33 runs from seven innings at an average of 4.71.
 
The form and fitness of Andre Russell. While the 27-year-old enjoyed a relatively successful tournament (139 runs at 23.16 and 9 wickets at 29.55), the brilliant all-rounder was constantly hampered by injury niggles that prevented him hitting top gear. With the Tallawahs’ lacking the depth of other squads, Russell’s problems were always going to harm their chances.
 
Policy of experience over youth. In their quest to regain the title they lost in 2014, the Tallawahs’ management made a conscious decision to back experience over youth and while it worked to some extent, the failure to make it past the first play-off game coupled with the disappointing form of several senior players would suggest that the balance of the squad was wrong.
 
Best moment
 
Entering the third CPL season, Chris Gayle had never scored a T20 hundred in front of his passionate fans in Jamaica. That all changed, however, in Match 18 against the Red Steel as Gayle produced one of his finest innings to score the only century of the six-week extravaganza.
 
Coming off only 54 balls, Gayle was at his destructive best, smashing NINE maximums and six boundaries. Under the lights of Sabina Park and in front of a deafening capacity crowd of 18,000, Gayle’s innings was arguably the highlight of the whole tournament.
 
Season MVP
 
An easy decision to make - Chris Gayle. As noted above, the left-hander sparkled in the tournament, in the process becoming the first batsman in the history of the game to score 8000 T20 runs. Now entering the twilight of his illustrious career, we should savour every moment of brilliance Gayle provides us with.
 
The player that doesn’t get enough love
 
Chadwick Walton. It’s always difficult when you are playing second fiddle to Gayle at the top of the order, but Walton deserves praise for a highly efficient tournament. His 243 runs (including one fifty) often came in support of Gayle but always gave the Tallawahs a platform to build from, even if the middle order failed to capitalise. The wicket-keeper’s glove-work also proved to be solid throughout the tournament.
 
What they said
 
“It’s a great feeling. You know the first one at home in T20 is fantastic. I got an ODI hundred here and a Test hundred so it’s great to add a T20 one as well" - Chris Gayle on scoring his first T20 century at his home ground, Sabina Park
 
Hopes for 2016
 
There’s no doubt that the Tallawahs expected to regain the CPL crown in 2015 and to fall short will be very disappointing. With many experienced members of their squad reaching the end of their careers, it would come as no surprise to see several new faces wearing yellow in 2016. While it may prove to be a transitional year for the franchise, their chances of progression to the play-offs will always remain high with the peerless Gayle at the top of the order.

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Spotlight on: Jamaica Tallawahs! CPL T20

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