West Indies' T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite will lead St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the upcoming Caribbean Premier League, taking over from Chris Gayle, who will turn out for Jamaica Tallawahs this season.
The allrounder has been part of the franchise for four successive seasons, since the introduction of the team in the CPL, and has been among the side's leading run-getters since then. He said his focus this year would be to ensure Patriots end up in the top four for the third consecutive year: in 2017, they finished runners-up, losing to Trinbago Knight Riders in the final, and in 2018, the side finished third.
"I think we had a good last couple of years where we challenged really well on the field, we went to the final and then we made it to the playoffs as well," Brathwaite said. "So, this year is about trying to continue that same thought process, that same set of game plan and try to be as attacking as we could potentially be. Obviously, we had Chris [Gayle] and Evin [Lewis] at the top,
"Chris is now gone so we need to find a replacement for Chris, probably not in the same style that he would play, but with the results that he would normally bring to the team. Obviously, that's another big character gone in the dressing room as well, so we have to manoeuvre slightly differently, but we need the same results where we challenge for the top four and then once we get to the top four, we challenge for the title."
Brathwaite credited Gayle for his calm presence as captain over the last two seasons, apart from his run tally of 659 runs in 23 matches in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
"I think people look for the shouting and the 'hurrah' and Chris is not necessarily that. He's more calm, collective, cool. He leads by example. He has the respect of everyone in the dressing room, so whenever he speaks you know his words are worth the weight in gold. I think a lot of people take his coolness and his calm persona for granted but there's very much a whole heap of respect in all the dressing rooms I've been fortunate enough to play alongside him in, everyone in the dressing room gives him maximum respect"
The Patriots squad for this season includes four players from West Indies' World Cup squad - Brathwaite, opener Evin Lewis, left-arm spinner Fabien Allen and fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell - while the international contingent includes Sri Lanka quick Isuru Udana and Pakistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez. The latter replaced South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen, who withdrew from the tournament due to international commitments. Patriots will play the opening match of CPL 2019, against Trinbago Knight Riders in Port of Spain on September 4.