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Spotlight on: Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel!

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By Author CPL
Three years of Caribbean Premier League action. Three different champions.
 
In 2015, it was the turn of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, their performance peaking at the perfect time to ensure that Dwayne Bravo would lift the trophy in front of an adoring crowd at the Queen’s Park Oval.
 
In our final franchise review of the season, we pay tribute to the Red Steel’s captain and look at the exciting developments off the field for the franchise…
 
Key stats
 
Played 10 W 5 L 4 NR 1
 
Table: 3rd
 
Playoff result
 
1ST SEMI-FINAL - BEAT Tallawahs by 27 runs
 
2nd SEMI-FINAL - BEAT Amazon Warriors by 6 wickets 
 
FINAL - BEAT Tridents by 20 runs
 
Leading run-scorer: Jacques Kallis (304 runs @ 27.63)
 
Leading wicket-taker: Dwayne Bravo (28 wickets @ 11.71)
 
Three things that went well
 
Even before the ‘Biggest Party in Sport’ had begun, the Red Steel received a huge boost with IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, investing a stake in the team. This was a significant development for both the league and the franchise, effectively securing its long-term future on the island. While changes may yet come to the franchise as the Knight Riders ownership look towards the 2016 competition, it was refreshing to see the new owners keep to the traditions of the Trinidadian franchise, sticking with the red and black team colours and maintaining the Red Steel name.
 
While there were exciting developments off the pitch, the players on the field matched the feel good atmosphere as the franchise lifted their first-ever CPL title. The addition of one of the modern greats of the game in Jacques Kallis proved to be inspired with the South African topping the run scoring charts with 304 runs at 27.63. Meanwhile, Darren Bravo (291 runs at 32.33) came of the age in the later stages of the tournament to help spark the Red Steel's march towards the trophy. 
 
Praise must also be heaped on the Trinidadian crowd, who flocked to the historic Queen’s Park Oval throughout the final fortnight of the tournament to get behind their franchise. Undoubtedly it proved to be an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams in the final weeks of the competition. Yet seeing the stands full to capacity game after game harked back to the golden days of cricket in the West Indies and suggested the future remains bright for the sport on the island.
 
Things that didn’t go so well
 
To win tournaments that are stretched out over a six-week period, a team will always require a slice of lady luck. The Red Steel’s schedule, ultimately, proved a blessing in disguise as their early tournament form left a huge amount to be desired. In fact heading into their home round of group fixtures in Port of Spain, the team languished near the bottom of the table. It says a lot that skipper Dwayne Bravo felt the need to call his team out, despite victory, after they played the Amazon Warriors in Match 14 of the group stages.
 
While the Queen’s Park Oval was a fantastic venue to host the tournament finals, some will question the suitability of the outfield at the ground. With the competition falling in rainy season, the outfield became severely marked from repetitive use. Even though the sand-based turf is vital for drainage, the Red Steel may consider trying to get a super-sopper in place for 2016 to help alleviate any concerns that arise when the rain falls.
 
Best moment
 
Sunday July 26th 2015 will be a date that will stay with the whole Red Steel squad forever. Simon Helmot, coach of the franchise, commented later that the team were “a band of brothers that were bonded together by one common goal”, and so it proved as the Red Steel lifted the title after a 20-run defeat of the Tridents in the final. The scenes which followed the final ball with players celebrating in the crowd with the cheerleaders, family and friends was the culmination of an incredible six-week journey.
 
Season MVP
 
The leader of the franchise, the home town boy and the King of the 2015 CPL, this award can go to no other than Dwayne Bravo. Outstanding with the ball throughout, his medium pace deliveries foxed batsmen, claiming 28 wickets at an astonishing 11.71. Perhaps more importantly though, and in the face of criticism from the press, Bravo’s vibrant leadership did not wilt in the face of adversity. His sheer determination to be the man lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament was felt by all of his team-mates and proved to be the decisive factor in the final. 
 
The player we are going to hear more about...
 
With bowling attack dominated by a trio of experienced spinners - Johan Botha, Suliemann Benn and Samuel Badree - young slow left-arm orthodox Derone Davis had to wait until the finals weeks of the tournament to be given a chance to shine. The 23-year-old responded in magnificent fashion taking seven wickets at 19.14, including producing one of the balls of the tournament to dismiss Marlon Samuels. If he continues to develop in 2016, the Red Steel will have unearthed a big talent.
 
What they said
 
"It's just been brilliant, the whole support. To play a big final like that in Trinidad was amazing, and Barbados were extremely competitive, we were anxious right until the end. It’s fairytale season, you can say that.” - Venky Mysore, Red Steel CEO
"I can't describe it. You have to experience the CPL for yourselves. It's unbelievable!” - Cameron Delport on the experience of playing in the CPL
"Words can't explain what this means. Thanks so much to the fans who came out to support us. Best crowd in the world!” - Dwayne Bravo on lifting the CPL title in front of his home crowd
 
Hopes for 2016
 
While hopes were high entering 2015 that the Red Steel would mount a serious title challenge, the expectations for next season will be heightened with the franchise set to defend their title, something that is yet to be achieved in CPL history. To do so, the Red Steel will be required to restock their batting line-up with Kallis unlikely to return, while the likes of Benn and Badree may be past their prime in the spin bowling ranks. Ultimately given longer to prepare, the most interesting thing will be to watch what influence, if any, the KKR franchise have on the team for 2016.

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Spotlight on: Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel! CPL T20

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