Caribbean Premier League 2014 July 23, 2014

Bravo hails Ross Taylor's influence

Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo has hailed the foreign contingent of his team as one of the main reasons behind their drive this year in the CPL. Bravo lauded Ross Taylor and Kevin O'Brien, who recently set a CPL record for the tournament's highest-ever partnership, as players whose influence builds the vibe of unity he wants cultivated in the squad.

Bravo said he recognised this with both players last year and that despite not winning the inaugural edition, he desperately wanted to retain them as he sees the duo as ideal role models, on and off the field, for young players. He expressed confidence in both due to their international experience and deemed them essential to bringing 'a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie' to the locker-room. Bravo said their form also showed Red Steel are better equipped to mount a challenge this time around and that the batsmen were eager to shoulder the pressures of the franchise.

"Ross is one of the best players in the game," Bravo said. "We've seen it over the last couple years with New Zealand in various formats and even in the last CPL. He brings great depth and leadership to the team and it's something I very much welcome."

Bravo pointed to the developing Nicolas Pooran as a player who Taylor, much like himself, has taken a keen interest in, as both see him as a future star, despite recent stumbling blocks. Bravo mentioned Taylor's practical approach in mentoring players on the field as he dubbed him 'more than a vice-captain'. He added that the sense of familiarity with Taylor was also crucial, having played with and against the New Zealander frequently.

Bravo singled out O'Brien as someone he trusted to score the runs this year. "We all know what he's capable of and he's showing it," Bravo said. "Last year he did it also. Our batting is more assured with him, Ross and my brother [Darren Bravo] all settled now. We feel very comfortable together."

With the debacle over the Red Steel's franchise name sorted, the all-rounder added it was good to put that drama to bed and re-focus on the cricket. He said he was also elated to be returning to form following a shoulder injury that kept him out of most of the 2014 IPL and all of the recent New Zealand series.

"I'm feeling much better now and I'm ready to deliver," he said. "I know last year in the CPL, I got some stick for my death bowling but this year we're playing much better cricket and enjoying it. With guys like Ross and Kevin at the helm with me, I think we have the right blend of youth and experience."

Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. @RenaldoMatadeen