The West Indies Cricket Board in conjunction with Verus International recently made a grand announcement:
The Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the inaugural edition of which is set to begin on July 29, will include six franchises with 90 contracted players in all. Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard have been named ‘franchise players’. Each of these icon players will turn out for one of the six teams, which are likely to be from Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The big question is: How many if any of our Nevisian cricketers will be able to feature in one or more of these teams? The release stated: ‘in case of Antigua, players from the Leeward Islands and four must be under-23 players.’ There is also an opening for a maximum of 4 overseas players in each franchise.
There are more questions than answers at this point:
Who are the selectors who will select the ANTIGUA team? How will fairness be determined in the selection process? What criteria will be utilized to determine the 15 players?
You recognize that we have a problem here? There has always been talk of insularity in the selection of teams in the Leeward Islands. This has been a case even when the players were mainly playing for the pride of representing their respective islands but now we are talking MONEY—and I mean serious MONEY and for an extended period.
Reference can be made to the previous Stanford tournament but there were two basic differences with this new franchise tournament.
1. Stanford’s tournament initially allowed all of the islands to have individual teams and so a wider pool of players had the opportunity for international recognition
2. Stanford’s was a one man show and we all remember how that one ended. This one is fully sanctioned by the WICB and is in collaboration with an established and successful company-Venus International and besides, the initial contract is set for 20 years!
3.You realize what this means? Any cricketer with the fitness and ability can indeed make a healthy living using his God given talents for quite a number of years to come.
That is why the jostling for spots will become even more critical. A criteria for selection must be established very early and there must be certain requirements set down with relevant contracts been signed so that all concerned can be held accountable.
The entire process must not be secretive but must be open to public scrutiny and a system of regular appraisals and assessments must be put in place.
How many Nevisian cricketers are ready to put up their hands—ready to play some exciting cricket and ready to make some serious money? These contracts will be funded by the CPL to the tune of US$360,000 annually with the 2014 edition of the CPL scheduled to be played between July 5 and August 10, while the 2015 tournament will run from June 21 to July 26.
I have a couple of names in mind. I hope that they are fit and ready to seize this once in a life time opportunity and I am hoping that whoever is responsible for the selection process will be fair in the selection process. I am also hoping that our Umpires and especially Carl Tuckett will be given an opportunity to get a piece of the pie as well.