Trinbago Knight Riders have their sights set on making history when they launch the new series of the Caribbean Premier League this week.
The Knight Riders – who open the defence of their T20 crown against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, live on Sky Sports – are bidding to secure an unprecedented hat-trick of titles.
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But there are five other star-studded teams out to stop them and snatch the championship over the coming six weeks. Here, we take at look at the challengers…
Last year: Sixth
The only way is up for the Tridents, who finished bottom of the table in 2018 after winning only two of their fixtures.
On paper, they should certainly do better – the squad includes West Indies skipper Jason Holder, along with versatile wicketkeeper-batsman Shai Hope and left-arm quick Raymon Reifer.
England batsman Alex Hales should add some explosive power at the top of the batting order, while the overseas contingent also includes Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz and Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.
GUYANA AMAZON WARRIORS
Last year: Runners-up
Still seeking their first title after finishing second twice in the past three years, the Warriors will again look to Shimron Hetmyer to lead their challenge.
The West Indies left-hander was the tournament’s third-highest run-scorer last season, hitting 440 runs at an average of exactly 40, and he will be joined again by international team-mate Nicolas Pooran.
On the overseas front, Pakistan all-rounder Shadab Khan lines up for Guyana, along with experienced compatriot Shoaib Malik and Australia’s Chris Green, who returns after taking 10 wickets for the Warriors in 2018.
Last year: Fourth
Chris Gayle was one of the main factors behind Jamaica’s two previous title victories – so they will hope the great entertainer of Caribbean cricket can inspire a return to glory after persuading him to return home from St Kitts & Nevis.
With the line-up also including another T20 veteran in Andre Russell and exciting young West Indies bowler Oshane Thomas – who took 18 wickets last season – there should be no shortage of entertainment.
New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips, who scored more runs than any other Tallawahs batsman in 2018, returns alongside fellow Kiwi George Worker and Afghanistan left-arm spinner Zahir Khan.
ST LUCIA ZOUKS
Last year: Fifth
The Zouks, who competed in the tournament until 2017, are back as the result of a falling-out between the league organisers and the owners of their replacement franchise, the Stars.
Neither of the St Lucia teams has ever won the competition and their hopes of mounting a challenge this time will be pinned on the island’s best-known player, all-rounder Darren Sammy.
The Zouks also include West Indies’ John Campbell and the somewhat eye-catching Rahkeem Cornwall, while Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera features along with New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme.
ST KITTS & NEVIS PATRIOTS
Last year: Third
Despite the departure of Gayle, the Patriots have another titan of T20 cricket stepping up to take over the captaincy in Carlos Brathwaite, who put in some memorable performances at the 50-over World Cup earlier this summer.
Fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who picked up 11 wickets in last year’s tournament, will aim to be sending several more batsmen on their way with a military salute, assisted by West Indies team-mate Alzarri Joseph.
South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen returns to the Patriots for a second season and the batting line-up should also be strengthened by the inclusion of hard-hitting Sussex batsman Laurie Evans.
TRINBAGO KNIGHT RIDERS
Last year: Winners
Dwayne Bravo leads the defending champions – who certainly look like the team to beat again – with a line-up that also includes his brother Darren and Kieron Pollard, who averaged 47 for the Stars last season.
New Zealand opener Colin Munro amassed more runs in last year’s tournament – 567 – than anyone else and, although he misses the first three games due to international commitments, the Knight Riders have drafted in Lendl Simmons as his replacement.