For the first time in six years venues in Trinidad and Tobago will not see any action in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) after organisers took a decision to appoint St Kitts and Nevis as host for the 2021 edition.
And it appears that that decision was centered around Covid-19 concerns and safety, with the CPL declaring in a press release on Tuesday that St Kitts & Nevis has no COVID-19 transmission and is one of the safest places to visit in the Caribbean.
This year's tournament, which comprises of 33 matches, bowls off on August 28, and will be contested using a similar format that worked so successfully in 2020, and which delivered a record audience of over 500 million.
Last year Trinidad and Tobago hosted all six franchise teams in a bio-secure bubble with matches contested at two venues; the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain and the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.
According to the release, the Hero CPL operations team will again be working closely with the tournament’s medical advisors, local agencies and the St Kitts & Nevis government to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in the tournament as well as the local population.
The CPL stated that the Warner Park Cricket Stadium in St Kitts, which hosted the semi-final and final in 2014, has been the scene of some of the most iconic matches in the tournament's history and its quick-scoring ground will be an ideal venue for the tournament, and fans can expect explosive cricket.
Drawing reference to Chris Gayle’s brilliant hundred against the Jamaica Tallawahs in 2019 and Andre Russell’s even more explosive century against the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in 2016, the CPL noted that Warner Park has had some classic individual performances as well as some amazing matches, including a Super Over finish between the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and TKR in 2019.
CPL's Chief Operations Officer, Pete Russell, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce that we will be having the Hero CPL in St Kitts & Nevis in 2021 and we would like to thank those involved in welcoming the tournament to this wonderful country.
"As was demonstrated during the 2020 tournament, the CPL is a massive boost for the host country with US$51.5 million delivered in sponsorship value for Trinidad & Tobago. We are really looking forward to giving St Kitts & Nevis the exposure they deserve.”
Meanwhile, Jonel Powell, St Kitts & Nevis Minister for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, said they are greatly confident that the hosting of the CPL will stimulate much-needed economic activity, especially for small and medium-sized local businesses.
"As it relates to COVID-19 we will maintain our vigilance to ensure that our health protocols are not compromised and that the country remains protected from any serious spread of the Coronavirus.
"It will most certainly help to revive the tourism sector that has been struggling for over a year, under the weight of the deadly COVID-19 global pandemic. Therefore, the economic impact is forecast to be significant,” Powell said.
The CPL noted that this year’s tournament takes on extra significance with it taking place in the lead up to the ICC T20 World Cup, and West Indies and overseas players will be using this opportunity to push for selection for their international teams.
The switch in host country brings to an end Trinidad and Tobago run of five consecutive years of having responsibility for some aspect of the tournament, having hosted the last five finals, 2016 and 2017 at the Queen's Park Oval, and 2018-2020 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.
TKR is the defending champion, having upstaged St Lucia Zouks in the grand finale last year, in a historic season where they played unbeaten throughout the entire tournament.