Hero #CPL15 T20 Diary 1: Jamaica Tallawahs vs St Lucia Zouks

I cannot recall seeing Sabina Park being so full in my recent memory! Well the way my brain has been working these days, that doesn’t count for much. But the point is made.  There are lots of people here. From I arrived at the George Headley end at approximately 5:15 p.m., patrons could be seen in lines awaiting security and ticket checks.
I was last here in June for the Test match between Jamaica and Australia. Today, the atmosphere is different. Different good. Lively good!  After all, CPL does stand for Cricket Played Louder. To my right  from the Media Centre are the Hospitality Suites of the North Stand, with regular seating below. To my far left is the Appleton Estates/Digicel Party Stand all lit up and with the bells and whistles that those two companies are known for.
Branding is very evident around the ground. I am looking at a big yellow Busta bottle. The Caribbean Airlines flags flutter in the nighttime breeze. Adjacent to the food stalls, Stag, Fruta, Courts, Caribbean Airlines, Limacol and others have set up shop. Brands have seemingly paid to have their products offered exclusively. Some are sponsors too. Cool Runnings is the only water you will be able to buy.
During the innings break while the Jamaica Tallawahs were strategizing over how they would achieve the required run rate of close to 8 per over after the St Lucia Zouks overcame their shaky start to amass 158 runs, Dexter Daps was entertaining spectators in the Party Stand with hits including 7Eleven….the clean version.
The Hero CPL dancing girls, mascots, fire dancers and persons representing sponsors making the lap around the boundary added to the lively activity during the break.
It is entertaining watching Chadwick Walton mistreat Nathan McCullum. After 10 overs, he was on 45 from 30 balls, while the usually more dominant Captain Chris Gayle was on 33 off 30 balls. The required 79 off 60 balls seems quite achievable, especially as no wickets have yet been loss. Maybe this was part of the strategy. Give Walton the strike since Darren Sammy and his men would more than likely have plotted to target Chris Gayle. Chadwick had a birthday recently. Helping to seal a victory for the out of luck Jamaicans who have only managed 2 wins, would be a quite welcomed gift from him (let’s break with birthday traditions, shall we?).
My word! I have come back from my ‘water break’ to find that the Jamaican Walton is in a hurry to go home! Five boundaries and 1 Hero maximum 6 in the 3 overs after their drinks break. The run rate has been brought down to 5.86 runs per over. Chris Gayle looks almost pedestrian! Dang! This pair is ensuring that those who have not yet bought tickets, will quickly change that. There are games on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The Zouks bowling looking helpless at the moment” utters a commentator. But soon after, Fidel Edwards gets his man in th 14th over.

Edwards to Walton, OUT

CAK Walton c Sammy b Edwards 76 (48b 9×4 3×6) SR: 158.33

Will Gayle take over now and finish the business?
 Arright. Time to lock up shop. Biff baff….it done. Well, Zouks bowler Kemar Roach made it a bit of an anti climax. Three extras for the first three balls of Over 17.  It took some time before the umpires signaled that the third ball was a no ball for height. Tallawahs by 9 wickets in 16 overs. That should help the net run rate.
Win #1 at home completed. Gayle says he will be happy with 3 out of 4. Come on Chris, be greedy. Go for the full 100% victory of all home games.
While making the dash from the North Stand to the George Headley stand, I had to be bobbing and weaving through throngs of people. Must devise another strategy for Thursday’s match. I passed two fellas. One said to the other “yow, Saturday cyan miss me yuh know!” If I had not had a conversation with the media guy earlier about ticket sales, I would have just thought he was excited to see some more cricket. But the news is that the entertainment for the Party Stand…and in effect the whole ground….is new best friends, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.
Jamaica’s opponents will be 2014 champions Barbados Tridents. Should be a killer!
PS. We feel it for Darren Sammy who has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a fracture of some sorts. He will still travel with the team. Kevin Peteirsen has been named as Captain.