Here's to the success of CPL cricket
Hooked by events at the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, the Jamaican media have not, over recent days, had as much time or space for other sporting events as would normally be the case.
However, the Jamaica leg of Twenty20 cricket's Caribbean Premier League, involving franchises from six regional territories, starts today at Sabina Park following two weeks of competition in Guyana and the eastern Caribbean.
Excitement begins at Sabina Park at 2:00 pm this afternoon with the aptly named Jamaica Tallawahs hosting the Guyana Amazon Warriors before what's expected to be a bumper crowd.
For Caribbean cricket watchers, long used to nationalistic rivalries in regional competition, the sight of leading national representatives suddenly representing rival franchise teams has caused quite a stir.
There was Jamaican consternation at Mr Krishmar Santokie's big role in the Guyana Amazon Warriors' defeat of the Jamaica Tallawahs early in the tournament. Also, Mr Marlon Samuels is captain of the Antigua Hawksbills and the fast bowling sensation of the tournament, Jamaican Mr Sheldon Cotterell is representing the Hawksbills.
In Barbados there was apparently even a public protest by a few people and a 'verbal' from a Cabinet minister over the decision to make the Trinidadian star Mr Kieron Pollard captain of the Barbados Tridents.
Trinidad and Tobago, so dominant in Twenty20 cricket over recent years, suddenly find themselves stripped of key players as a result of the bidding process under the franchise system.
Credit is due to Caribbean cricket audiences that already there appears to be an understanding and acceptance of the new order, with large crowds in Guyana and the island chain getting solidly behind their home franchises.
Hopefully it will help to develop a new culture in Caribbean cricket with players finding it easier to transfer allegiances, not just in professional Twenty20 cricket but in the more traditional formats. This newspaper believes that seamless movement across borders for cricketers, made easy by Caricom rules, will strengthen West Indies cricket.
Of considerable interest too has been the introduction of international stars from elsewhere across the cricketing world. The value of their input cannot be underestimated. Imagine the opportunity for young Jamaican batsman Mr Jermaine Blackwood who can now face the legendary 'mystery spinner' Mr Muttiah Muralitharan at net practice.
There is a lot that is not fully explained about the Caribbean Premier League which hopefully will become clearer in the near future.
We trust that the tournament will be a hit with television audiences globally and allow the kind of revenue flows that will ensure returns, not only for the various investors but for impoverished Caribbean cricket.
For Jamaica, the sad reality is that the failure to install lights at Sabina Park means that historic venue will be the only one in the CPL not able to host night games. It's an embarrassment.
As we have said before in this space, this is not just about cricket. It's about Sabina Park taking its rightful place in the much-talked-about economic transformation of downtown Kingston.