The "disrespect" that was directed at Jamaica Tallawahs spurred the team to go all the way and clinch the CPL title, their captain Rovman Powell has said. Not many gave Tallawahs a chance to qualify for the playoffs, let alone make the final, and despite losing key personnel at various stages, they rallied to beat favourites Barbados Royals in the final on Friday.
"I think adjectives are inadequate in describing how I feel," Powell told the host broadcaster at the post-match presentation. "The type of disrespect that we endured during the competition… so the emotions had to come out now.
"I think we used the disrespect that we endured as a motivation, to be honest. The guys were very hungry, and everything just came out right [during the final]. After we were placed under pressure in the powerplay, the guys got off to a pretty good start. We have a lot of batters that are batting good, so if they make 180-200, we will try our best to get it."
After setting the early pace in the tournament, along with Royals, with three victories in their first four games, Tallawahs suffered a mid-tournament slump and just about scrapped to the playoffs with one more win from their final six league matches. However, they peaked in the knockouts, winning three in a row to seal their third CPL title and first since 2016. Powell credited Fabian Allen, Brandon King, Kennar Lewis and Shamarh Brooks for helping him hold the team together despite setbacks on and off the field.
"I think the backroom staff played their part but special mention to my 16 or 17 players here," Powell said. "I formed a leadership group with Brandon King, Kennar Lewis, Fabian Allen, Shamarh Brooks and they were integral part of my leadership group. They were integral in pushing our team into a particular direction and the overseas players who played supporting roles were tremendous. A lot of credit needs to be given to them. At some point in the competition, we seemed down and out, but those guys rallied around my captaincy, believed in me as captain, and now we're CPL champions."
Powell cited King's hundred against his former franchise Guyana Amazon Warriors in the league phase and Brooks' century in the second qualifier against the same opposition as moments that defined Tallawahs' campaign. King and Brooks also made telling contributions in Tallawahs' pursuit of 162 in the final.
"I think the first hundred that Brandon scored," Powell said. "You know it was in a losing cause, but it was a magnificent hundred. We keep telling the guys that is what big-match cricket is and CPL cricket is all about. The other night Shamarh sealed it with a fantastic hundred. In key moments, you want the big players to stand up and for us, our big players did that for us this year."
Powell also saw the CPL title victory as an important step in his growth as a leader. In addition to delivering under pressure with the bat, he often fronted up to bowl his yorkers in the end overs.
"I think it's a step in the right direction. I've captained a few teams before, I've captained my country Jamaica and I've captained franchises also, so it's a step in the right direction. I hope that I can keep on learning, and I think my family has been instrumental in guiding me and pushing me in a particular direction. Sometimes, I feel down and out because obviously I'm human, but they rallied around me."
Despite Tallawahs knocking out Amazon Warriors, the Guyana crowd came in droves at the Providence to support Tallawahs. Powell acknowledged that support from the Guyana crowd and dedicated the CPL trophy to the Jamaican fans.
"I want to say special thanks to the Guyanese supporters," Powell said. "After beat Guyana, they could've easily turned on us, but they came in and supported us. We feel it was a Jamaica crowd that came to Guyana. We look around and we have so much Guyanese supporting us. It warms our heart. To the fans in Jamaica, you guys stuck with us through the darkest of times and this one is for you guys."