A record number of local and international stars have been officially registered for the HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Player Draft which takes place on 11 February in Barbados.
Commenting on this year’s record list of applicants both in the West Indies and across the world, Director of International Cricket for CPL, Tom Moody said: “Some of the leading names in world cricket have signalled their intentions to join the biggest party in sport at the CPL, so this year’s competition is sure to be our most exciting to date.
“Outside of our ‘marquee’ players, there are international players of the highest standard including a host of World champions, and a myriad of players who continue to entertain and enrich the global game.
“It is without doubt our most competitive roster and it is exciting to see such a high standard across the established and emerging nations around the world. That players from 14 nations have entered the Draft illustrates the global reach of the CPL, and with a sizable increase in the West Indies contingent which is up by over one-fifth this year, it is clear that the T20 game is growing from strength to strength.”
Amongst the list of West Indies talent who are in the frame for the six franchises this year are stars of the calibre of Chris Gayle (a winner of the inaugural competition with Jamaica Tallawahs back in 2013), West Indies World T20 captain Darren Sammy and Lendl Simmons.
Darren and Dwayne Bravo are set to join the number one ranked T20 international bowler Samuel Badree, as well as Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard, who was such a driving force in Barbados reaching last year’s final before being edged by eventual winners Trinidad & Tobago.
To supplement the outstanding pool of local talent on display, some of the biggest names in international cricket will bid to join the five marquee players – Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Watson – who were confirmed last week.
Amongst the assembled overseas stars is a 34-strong South African contingent headed by prolific top order batsman Hashim Amla, leg-spinner Imran Tahir and fast bowler Morne Morkel.
There is sure to be a strong Pakistan presence in the tournament, which takes place from the end of June until the beginning of August, with one of the stars of last year’s CPL for Barbados Shoaib Malik included amongst a plethora of big names including Shahid Afridi, Misbah-Ul-Haq (who has played in both St Lucia and Barbados to date) and left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
Across the continents, there will be seven Bangladesh (including Shakib Al Hasan who is one of the finest all-rounders in world cricket), while there will also be seven Afghanistan players which is indicative of their recent rise in the shortest format of the game. Sri Lanka, currently ranked third in the T20 team rankings, will have 20 representatives in the frame including legends Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga will be looking to join their compatriot Sangakkara.
There will be 23 players from Australia in the Draft, including a blend of experience in Brad Haddin, Brad Hodge and Michael Hussey allied to a crop of up-and-coming talent, and a further 11 New Zealanders, including the likes of Nathan McCullum.
Of the current ICC World T20 player rankings, nine of the top 20 batsmen could be set to feature in this summer’s CPL: du Plessis (fourth place), Guptill (fifth), Gayle (seventh), Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Masakadza (eighth), Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad (ninth), Dilshan (13th), Brendon McCullum (15th), Watson (17th) and Umar Akmal (18th).
Four of the top five bowlers in the T20 rankings are also in the frame with the list headed by West Indian leg-spinner Badree, Afridi (third), Sachithra Senanayake (fourth) and Graeme Cremer (fifth), with Malinga (seventh) and Tahir (ninth) also amongst the leading lights in contention.
With coveted spots up for grabs from the ICC Americas region, there is sure to be a lot of interest across North America as players from Canada (seven) and the USA (10), who recently competed in the Nagico Super 50 competition, all aim to book one of the six coveted places.
England (two), Ireland (two), Scotland (two) and Netherlands (one) will be the European representatives hoping to secure a place in the CPL. Sixteen of the 157 West Indies players to register have already been retained ahead of the draft, leaving 141 eligible for selection on draft day.
This is 25 more than the 116 who vied for spots at last year’s Draft and represents a 22% increase. Coupled with an 18% increase in international player registration, this is further illustration of the CPL’s growing stature as one of the foremost tournaments in T20 cricket. (CPL)
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