CPL can help resolve problems in West Indies cricket - Mark Butcher
Cricket in the West Indies has been through some testing times recently, notably with players and the board clashing, all among the backdrop of the downfall of the team from the glory days. This has prompted many West Indian cricketers to ply their trades in various global Twenty20 leagues in order to secure their financial future.
The CPL, on the other hand, has been a tremendous success in the region and it has gone from strength to strength as it now reaches its fourth season.
Speaking to Cricket World about the various T20 leagues around the world, Butcher feels that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the benchmark the other leagues aim for despite the success of tournaments like the Big Bash League and the CPL.
The move by the organisers of the CPL to host a set of games in Florida has pleased Butcher, who has hailed it as an "incredibly exciting move".
“It is a little bit tricky. The IPL is the line," Butcher, who is part of the commentary team at the CPL, said.
"Even the Big Bash in terms of when it is played, in terms of some of the crowds they’ve been getting recently, you know 60-70 thousand people turning up at a domestic T20 game is incredible.
"But still, the point they aim is the IPL, just simply because of the massive interest. It is something that everybody in the country is talking about.
"The attendances at the games are always huge. They have the best players in the world there.
"CPL is looking to follow that. Of course, you’ve got logistical difficulties with the separate islands and the travel involved.
"Each competition has its own sort of identity.
"What CPL is trying to do is just trying to garner that and push it as far as it possibly can.
"It is in its fourth year at the moment. IPL-9 has just gone by, so they’ve got double the head start.
"As I said, the Florida move is an incredibly exciting one."
Butcher is confident that if the local cricketers can be persuaded to accept playing in the CPL is as lucrative, if not more lucrative, than other leagues, it can help to solve the various problems that have beset West Indies Cricket.
"The partnerships they (CPL organisers) are trying to build with the likes of the IPL will only help them in the future.
"If you couple that with the difficulties the West Indies cricket is having in terms of the players and the board not particularly getting on with one another and players worried about their financial futures and disappearing off to earn their money elsewhere.
"The more that can happen here in the West Indies to kind of persuade the rest of the world plus the young players that playing here is a good thing to do as well, then the better that will be for the West Indies cricket."
Commenting on the popularity of the game in the region, Butcher refused to support the notion that interest in cricket in the West Indies is on a decline.
"Generally speaking, despite the reports that the game is dying over here, I don’t necessarily prescribe to that point of view.
"The crowd here is incredibly interested in cricket and couple that with the love of getting out and enjoying themselves and then add Twenty20 to that mix, you’ve got a pretty lively cocktail for a good time.
"Also West Indies being the World Champions in T20, the excitement about it is growing.
"This is the fourth year of this competition, it seems to be going from strength to strength. I just think it is going to be good fun."
Consisting of only six teams, the CPL has a concise format and combined with the strong squads each team has this year, it makes for a very competitive and attractive tournament.
According to Butcher, the key to success for any T20 league is the structure of the tournament and he feels that quality cricket will be a by-product if the competition is organised in the right way.
"The fewer teams you have to fill, the more concentrated the talent is and it helps to push up the competitiveness.
"High standard of play is almost like a by-product of the structure of the competition.
"Whether or not the CPL might think in the future about adding another franchise or two, whether they think six is the right number, that remains to be seen.
"If your structure is good and you manage to attract the best players you can possibly get, package the whole thing into a relatively short space of time and manage to get every game on the television, then you capture as big an audience as you could possibly get – which is what T20 cricket to me is all about."
Furthermore, Butcher believes that T20 cricket is the right way to attract new audience to the game even though it may not be to the liking of traditionalists.
"You are trying to attract those people who have lost faith.
"You are trying to attract the youngsters who might feel seven to eight hours of One-Day Internationals or five days of Test matches is too long.
"You are pushing the game. It might not be the way the traditionalists would want to do it but it is the game that the game is going and the way that you are keeping interest in it."
Butcher reasoned that reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders have a strong chance to retain their title and also picked the Jamaica Tallawahs as one of the favourites to win the 2016 CPL.
"The reigning champions Trinidad look very strong again (with the likes of) Bravo, McCullum, Narine, Hashim Amla and Kevon Cooper.
"They’ve got some really good players.
"I am looking at the Jamaica Tallawahs and thinking that they might take some beating too."
The 2016 CPL will get underway at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on 29th June with Trinbago Knight Riders taking on St Lucia Zouks.
The Hero Caribbean Premier League is exclusive to UKTV’s free-to-air channel Dave (Freeview channel 12, Sky 111, Virgin 128) and starts on Thursday 30th June at 1pm. Live coverage begins with Jamaica Tallawahs v Guyana Amazon Warriors on Thursday 7th July at 11.30pm.
© Cricket World 2016