Nixon column: Sunshine State is ideal venue for CPL bow

By Paul Nixon

A week into my Caribbean adventure and, while I’m majorly struggling with jet-lag this time round, it’s as enjoyable as ever. We are currently in Florida with the CPL getting underway today (Friday) while my Jamaica Tallawahs’ first competitive game comes against Barbados Tridents at Lauderhill tomorrow.

We spent the first five days in Jamaica on a pre-season camp, which went really well. We got some good sessions in, with some scenario training. That’s all about creating different match occasions and coming up with plans if we were to face them when the tournament gets underway.

We got some local Jamaican cricketers in as well so we could have an inter-squad training match. They’re always handy because you don’t see anybody’s true talent in the nets. You can middle everything in the nets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re finding the gaps.

There’s some big hitting in our side, and I can’t wait to see what they do in a match scenario. I posted a picture on social media of a smashed window and that’s come from Odean Smith, a 20-year-old who hits a serious ball and bowls 90mph.

He’s got the potential to be a future Andre Russell. He’s ultra-fit, strong as an ox and will surprise a lot of people in this year’s tournament with his power and speed.

Creating a team and building a team from a coach’s point of view is about making sure everybody is comfortable. We’ve gone through our roles and responsibilities and we know what people need from everyone else. You need to know what success looks like for each player, and we’ve gone through most things individually. You just need to make sure everyone is thinking right.

One of the things that may be an issue is the weather – it is crazy here. We landed in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday in one of the hardest rainstorms you’ll ever see. It lashes it down but then the sun comes out and it dries out in ten minutes.

The forecasts are pretty accurate here, though. You can plan a bit better than you can in the UK, but it is what it is. We plan our training around the weather a little bit but that hasn’t stopped us getting outdoors every day.

It’s very humid. By the time you walk from the dressing room to the middle, you’re dripping with sweat. It’s phenomenal how hot it is, but we keep our fluids up, and make sure we reserve every ounce of energy we can.

It’s all focus on Saturday now, though. We’ve had our training games and now is when the competition starts. Starting quickly is vital, and we are hoping to catch Barbados a little bit cold.

They’ve got Shoaib Malik, Kane Williamson, Wayne Parnell and Kieron Pollard in their ranks, so they’ve got a good side.

There are never weak teams on paper in these T20 leagues, but I spoke to Kieron Pollard in the lift on the way to breakfast the other morning and he mentioned the weather in Barbados hasn’t been great so they’re short of practice.

We need to capitalise on that and hopefully this time next week I’ll be writing and we’ve got a few wins on the board!

Hales couldn be the answer – but at No.5

WHILE I’ve been over the other side of the world, I’ve still kept track of goings on in the UK. I saw Alex Hales hit a 47-ball 101 for Notts and, with Keaton Jennings struggling at the top of England’s Test line-up, Hales’ name has been mentioned again.

He chose not to tour to Bangladesh and has not even been spoken about since. Hales then decided he wanted to bat in the middle order for his county, and that’s where he can play his best cricket.

He plays spin well and, for me, would be better suited to No.5. He is more of a flair player and his technique suits the middle order more than it does the opening quicks.

He’s a good player and it would allow him to dominate more coming in lower down. He can have that KP-style influence on a side and take a match away from the opposition.

Jennings has a solid base to his technique and there shouldn’t be too many worries for him. Dawid Malan, though, seems more of a one-day player to me and England are still hunting for a permanent No.5. Hales could be their man.

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