What a couple of weeks it’s been! Caribbean Premier League winners for the second time then a wonderful family holiday in Majorca – I can’t really complain.
I’ve been pretty busy with one or two bits and played for the PCA Masters this week, so it’s been all systems go since returning from the Caribbean as a winner with Jamaica Tallawahs.
I’ve not really had time to think about the win. The whole campaign ebbed and flowed, but we peaked at the right time and, while we’ve got some big stars, I was more pleased for the young guys coming through. They grew in confidence and we managed to change their mindset and that will have a positive effect on West Indies cricket over the years to come.
Chris Gayle starred for us in the final, hitting a half-century, but we were always confident. We had played Guyana in an elimination match to make it through to the final and we let Steven Jacobs open the bowling and tie us down a bit.
We weren’t positive enough in that game so looked at that and knew we wanted to make more of an imprint in the game. Jacobs conceded 25 runs off four in the eliminator, but 33 off three in the final so our gameplan worked.
We always knew though, chasing 94, that as long as we didn’t lose early wickets and there was no scoreboard pressure that we would be okay. Twenty overs is still a long time to bat, and there’s no need to rush it when chasing a low score.
Dale Steyn was unavailable for the last few games having been recalled by Cricket South Africa so to have won it without him was a credit to the rest of the team. Dale was still a firm part of the group though and sent everyone a video message wishing us good luck, which was a great touch from a great guy.
Though we made the final and went on to win the tournament, we did have a blip when we were in America. There were long gaps of 11 to 12 days between games, and the weather over there made it hard to practise.
It was the tropical season and there were regular storms which helped nobody. You could be having a great practise session, and then a big electrical storm comes closing in and you have to get off the ground for a couple of hours. That was obviously frustrating and these are all things that me and the players need to learn from in the future.
We had some remarkable performances in the last couple of games. Andre Russell smashed a century off 44 balls after blocking the first ten in our semi-final against Trinbago Knight Riders. He hit 11 sixes, and it was just immense hitting.
Gayle hits a lot of sixes, but he mis-hits a lot and his raw power and heavy bat forces the ball over the rope whereas Andre hits the middle of the bat every time. It’s amazing to watch.
From St Kitts I had two flights to get home, one to Miami then from there to London. How I wasn’t sick on either of those flights I do not know. I don’t drink, but I celebrated well after the win and we didn’t sleep. We had a very good party, as I’m sure you can imagine is the case in the Caribbean!
You have to enjoy your successes because they don’t come around very often, so make sure you celebrate and drink it in.
The owners seem keen for me to go back next year, which is brilliant. It’s an honour to work in such a great competition where the owners, organisers and players are all on the same page and keen to make the tournament a success.
There are no qualms with money and the pitches have improved over the last couple of years. The big names are being drawn to the competition and it was just a pleasure to be involved in it. These memories will stay with me forever.
I’m just as keen to talk about going back next year and I know what I’m talking about with T20 cricket. I’ve been in charge of the Tallawahs twice and we’ve won the CPL both times, and I went to five Finals Days with Leicestershire as a player, winning three of them. I’m more than pleased with my record, but I want to keep moving forward. T20 is about being clever – taking your ego out of the game and being smart.
That’s easier when T20 cricket is played in a block. Yes, there were big gaps where we didn’t play games as much in the Caribbean, but that’s due to logistics of flying between islands.
The coaches and players definitely both prefer playing each format in separate blocks throughout the calendar. You can focus on individual skills and it’s very difficult to go from blocking the ball in a four-day game to swinging from the hip the next day.
If you want to win, you need time for the homework and preparation that you need to do. The authorities need to respect that if you want a world-class competition, then you need to allow for world-class preparation.
I’m such a keen believer in preparation being key, and the game has to be won in your mind before you walk out onto the pitch. As a player, you have to be fully prepared for anything that may happen in the game and know what you’re doing.
You’d have been through the different scenarios and you understand what is needed to win the game. It takes time, but it’s down to the coaches to instil that belief in the players.
I love that side of the game and love my coaching just as much. I want to keep going as high as I can. I want to be involved in a team that leaves a bit of a legacy whether that’s in county cricket or with a world T20 side. I’d love to be with a team where we can create something very special over a period of five or six years and majorly dominate.
Time will tell and opportunities will hopefully arrive. It’s important for me that I grab those opportunities if and when they come around.
It’s not just about T20. There’s always movement and I’d love to coach in the longer formats. It’s the same skill and I’ve played 23 years of county cricket, winning trophies, and would like to think I’ve got a lot to offer.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday August 19 2016
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