While it seems logical to stick with Hayden Walsh Jr when it comes to player of the tournament in this season’s Hero CPL, the Tridents-leggy probably wasn’t that far ahead of Guyana’s Brandon King in the race for the MVP. What may have cost King in the end was his teams first loss in the tournament, and it just so happened to be in the final where it mattered most. Arguably the best two individual performers in CPL19, both having a resounding impact for their respective sides.
Hayden Walsh Jr
A breakout-season for the 27-year-old American leg-spinner certainly turned some heads in the Caribbean this year, particularly in Barbados who had no idea this secret weapon was sitting among them like a dormant volcano all along. Yep, Hayden Walsh Jr didn’t even feature in the Tridents first game of the season against Guyana which wasn’t overly-surprising given his record in the CPL up until that point. Picked just a game later at Warner Park against the Patriots, that’s where Walsh managed to make the most of his opportunity picking up 2/33. It wasn’t the fact he picked up those two wickets, but more so how he got them. Going straight through Fabian Allen and than claiming Usama Mir’s middle-stump with a slider, the American-leggy executed his role in the team perfectly. Consistency was an entirely different question, he hadn’t exactly established himself in the side last season which was another challenge for him. To his credit, Walsh backed up his efforts against St Kitts & Nevis with another solid outing against Jamaica where he delivered another two scalps in the form of lbw’s. What was to follow was unexpected and extremely promising if you’re a Tridents follower, 5/19 against the reining champions-Trinbago left the home crowd partying like there was no tomorrow. Not only was it a breakout season for Hayden Walsh Jr, he’s also relabelled himself as a consistent performer & genuine wicket-taker in the Caribbean Premier League. Finishing CPL19 with 22 wickets at 12.68 from 9 games (not to mention a CPL title to his name), Walsh is a worthy recipient of the MVP award.
Fancy making it all the way to the final undefeated, only to drop the most important game of the tournament inches from the finishing line. That’s what Brandon King and the Guyana Amazon Warriors will be kicking themselves about right up until the start of next season, amazingly that’s the fifth time the Warriors have finished runners-up in the CPL. King himself couldn’t have done much more, he was the red-hot favorite to take out the MVP award right up until his team fell to their knees in the final. The award isn’t based around whether your team wins the title or not, but at the same time you can’t help but think it would’ve made a difference in the end to what had already been a stellar season from the Warriors opener. The 24-year-old finished CPL19 just shy of 500 runs (496) with an average of 55.11. Much like Hayden Walsh Jr, King produced a breakout performance in CPL19 after averaging in the low-20’s in his previous two seasons at the Patriots. One thing that stood out in particular was King’s intent at the top of the order, he hadn’t been given the opportunity previously which just goes to show that experimentation can be a remedy for success. The right-handers ball-striking was another strong point in his game this season, there was period where King found himself in a purple patch scoring 49, 59, 51* & 81* on the road! His knock in the first qualifier against the Tridents was simply-epic, King slammed home an unbeaten 132 off just 72 balls to send Guyana into the final. To go with that century, the Warriors opener also registered 3 fifties in CPL19.
Brandon King was easily the best batsman of the tournament with almost 500 runs to his name, however Hayden Walsh Jr left the likes of Imran Tahir and Fawad Ahmed in the dust which isn’t an easy thing to do either. Walsh had a significant impact for his team this season, his spinning-craft with the ball was faultless at times. Given that modern day cricket is viewed as a batsman’s game (especially in T20 cricket), 22 wickets in 9 outings is as good as it gets with the likes of Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard, Colin Munro and Andre Russell standing at the other waiting to pounce on anything & everything. King had an outstanding CPL with the bat, however if he managed to creep over 500 runs and drag his team over the line in the final, we could be talking about a completely-different MVP recipient.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.