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Sometimes I feel like giving up—Cooper
As he knelt on the pitch and buried his head in his arms, his relief was palpable.
Moments later, he sobbed heavily while being embraced by his captain Dwayne Bravo. There was an unmistakable sense of a man vindicated.
Almost single handedly swinging certain defeat into swaggering victory is enough to make a grown man cry. Yet, there seemed to be something more to Kevon Cooper’s tears even as fans of the Trinbago Knight Riders at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy roared in ecstasy from his heroics with the bat last Saturday night against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the CPL title match.
“I’ve been through a lot.” the lanky all-rounder told Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday from his home in Santa Monica Gardens, Mausica.
“I have represented this franchise for five years and I really wanted to show my worth this year and I think it panned out that way. I’ve been through ups and downs in my career. And to perform in a big final like this in front my home crowd, at a new venue was something special. There was no better way to contribute to my team than when they needed me most in the final,” he gushed.
Throughout his career, which was launched as a 19-year-old with the T&T Red Force team in 2009, Cooper has had a history of issues with his bowling action, and was officially reported for a suspect action twice last year, first while playing in the Pakistan Super League in February, and then during the Bangladesh Premier League in December. Those issues arose again during this year’s CPL when he was given a warning by match officials early in the tournament, forcing him to sit out a string of TKR’s games as another warning could have resulted in him being reported for a suspect bowling action and suspended.
He said: “To be reported last year in the Bangladesh Premier League, do the tests in India and get cleared again, then come back in the CPL and get a warning was sad for me. My bowling action has been a huge challenge and sometimes I just feel like giving up. But thanks to Bravo (Dwayne), Sunil (Narine), Pollard (Kieron) and these guys were around me when I felt like I had enough. So to miss five games in the CPL and still have the courage, and the energy to do what I did had to come from deep down inside. It just shows how strong I am as a person and really grateful that everything happened the way it happened.”
Cooper ended the tournament with 12 wickets from nine matches, conceding 185 runs.
Earlier in the final he had figures of two for 12, but as he watched in disbelief while his team’s batting collapsed in pursuit of Patriots’ average 135 on Saturday, Cooper remembered an encounter he had at the team’s hotel that morning.
He recalled: “One of the workers stopped me and said, ‘Cooper today is your day. You would make 40.’ And I told him that if it came down to me, things bad,” the right-handed medium seamer replied.
Looking back he said: “When the wicket before me fell I remembered that guy and when I went out to bat I just asked the Lord to guide me. I was nervous, I was frightened but then everything started to fall into place. The rest was history after that.”
Now a CPL champion for the second time, and with renewed belief in his abilities Cooper will get back to working on his action with a specialist from England.
“For me its a work in progress and something that just wouldn’t happen overnight,” he explained.
Cooper hopes to be ready in time for the Bangladesh Premier League in October where he has played every season since inception in 2012.