Months after the news that Jamaica won’t host games for next year’s Twenty20 (T20) Cricket World Cup, the country’s premier franchise, the Jamaica Tallawahs, will not be part of the 2024 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament following the owner’s decision to sell the franchise due to a lack of support from the Jamaican Government.
The three-time champions, who won the title as recently as 2022, will not be in the tournament dubbed the “biggest party in sport” after the CPL confirmed to the Jamaica Observer that it has bought the Tallawahs from Kris Persaud after he was “left with no option but to sell” as he “could not find a way to operate the team sustainably”.
The Observer understands that the ownership of the Tallawahs and the leaders of the CPL, including CEO Pete Russell and Operations Director Michael Hall, met with Sports Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange extensively over the last two years in hopes of bringing back games to Jamaica after not doing so since 2019.
However, the Observer has learnt that the Government didn’t see the value in Jamaica hosting CPL games and, hence, didn’t provide the sufficient support for Persaud and the Tallawahs.
The Observer also learnt that a proposal was made to Minister Grange which would have seen games return to Sabina Park in Kingston next year which would have kept the Tallawahs franchise running, but it wasn’t accepted.
The newspaper reached out to Grange for a response, but was unsuccessful up to press time on Friday. Efforts to contact Tallawahs CEO Jeff Miller were also unsuccessful.
Sources have confirmed to the Observer that Persaud will become the new owner of the Antigua and Barbuda franchise. The twin-island nation participated in the first two years of the CPL in 2013 and 2014 as the Antigua Hawkbills but will make a return for the 2024 edition after a nine-year absence. The name of the franchise is yet to be confirmed.
While the CPL holds the rights to the Tallawahs franchise, it will not be operating the team and is actively looking for a new owner in time for the 2025 season, according to a statement.
The Observer has learnt that there are already several interested parties but understands it would not materialise in time to change the Tallawahs’ fortune for 2024.
On Thursday, the former Tallawahs skipper and current West Indies T20 captain Rovman Powell expressed dissatisfaction at the sparsity of international cricket on Jamaican soil.
His comments come after the Windies ODI and T20 series against visitors England where games took place in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica won’t be part of next year’s T20 World Cup after the Government failed to bid to host games, with Grange citing that the cost outweighs the benefit.
“I’m a Jamaican. I want to play in front of my home crowd but for the last two years, I haven’t. But the West Indies Cricket Board and the Jamaican Government really have to sit down and have a conversation about that,” Powell said after West Indies secured a 3-2 series win over touring England.
“Definitely [worried]. Cricket hasn’t played there for a long time; as much as quite a few Jamaicans playing for West Indies now, no cricket has been there. Even if you look on the CPL team, I heard reports that they are looking to move the CPL team from Jamaica. Jamaica is the biggest island in the [English-speaking] Caribbean, a proud nation, a proud cricketing nation and for those things to be happening is disappointing,” he added.
CPL CEO Russell told the Observer in October that he had met with Minister Grange in a bid to improve the situation but it didn’t bear fruit.
“The discussions with Minister Grange have been perfectly amicable; we’ve had very good discussions, but that’s really about it. There’s never really been a negotiation; there’s never been a reason as to ‘this is why we won’t invest in CPL,” he said.
“I find it baffling as well as challenging, but I’ve always respected their decision because it’s their money; they can do what they want with it. It’s just that I want to try to get a fair hearing and say, ‘Look, I think you’re missing a trick here’ because in the future, [there will be] repercussions on how the game will evolve in Jamaica,” Russell added.
Over the last four years, Sabina Park has only hosted eight West Indies men’s international matches across all formats with the most recent coming in August 2022 in a three-match T20 series against New Zealand.