St Kitts & Nevis Patriots have had to rejig their backroom staffers’ line-up just two weeks before CPL 2020 after Simon Helmot, their head coach, and Malolan Rangarajan, the assistant coach, were forced to miss the tournament for different reasons. The franchise has brought in former West Indies captain Courtney Walsh and Mark O’Donnell from New Zealand, who had worked together with Jamaica Tallawahs in 2015, to fill the gaps.
Helmot tested positive for Covid-19 on July 27, the day he was to fly out of Melbourne to the Caribbean, while Rangarajan is a talent scout at Royal Challengers Bangalore, and is expected to be involved in the team’s pre-season camp in the UAE from the end of August. Rangarajan will, however, continue to assist the Patriots remotely as a strategic consultant.
Current CPL guidelines require all players and support staff to clear Covid-19 tests before they fly out to the Caribbean and fulfil a two-week quarantine period in Trinidad & Tobago, where the entire season will be played.
“Victoria is currently in stage four of lockdown, after a recent spike in cases. Because of my quarantine restrictions, I wouldn’t have been able to make it in time for the season owing to the quarantine protocols”
“I tested positive five hours before I was to fly out, and I’m shattered that I won’t be able to be part of Patriots this season,” Helmot told ESPNcricinfo. “I was asymptomatic, and my second test has come back negative, but I’m still in home isolation until the department of health and human services give me a green signal.
“Victoria is currently in stage four of lockdown, after a recent spike in cases. Because of my quarantine restrictions, I wouldn’t have been able to make it in time for the season owing to the quarantine protocols. I’m incredibly thankful to Mahesh Ramani, the franchise owner, and the CPL team of Pete Russell, Tom Moody and the others for working incredibly hard behind the scenes to put it together.”
Helmot, who was coach when Trinbago Knight Riders won the title in 2015, has a multi-year contract with the Patriots, and is hoping to return to the Caribbean next year. He has also previously been involved with Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash league, and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, apart from stints in Bangladesh as head of their high-performance centre.
Patriots were also hit by the news, reported by T&T Guardian, that 33-year-old left-arm spinner Dennis Bulli has also tested positive for Covid-19, and has been replaced in the squad by 36-year-old Trinidad & Tobago legspinner Imran Khan.
Meanwhile, Tallawahs have been hit by the withdrawal of two squad members, Andre McCarthy and Jeavor Royal, who had come into close contact with another player who had tested positive for Covid-19. “To lose both players… it is a big blow,” Tallawahs CEO Jeff Miller told Radio Jamaica Sports. “But at the end of the day, the safety of the players comes first.”
Jermaine Blackwood, West Indies’ leading run-scorer on their Test tour to England, will come in as a replacement player, while young Australian allrounder Antum Naqvi replaces Tabraiz Shamsi, who has had to opt out because South Africa’s borders remain closed.
With inputs from Mohammad Isam and Matt Roller