The Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has just got bigger.
A record 536 players from 20 countries, including every Test-playing nation, have indicated their interest in being part of the CPL draft to be staged in London next week.
And though he might have no interest in representing the region of his birth, Barbadian-born new England international Jofra Archer is among the several new players seeking to link up with one of the Caribbean franchises.
Among the other outstanding Twenty20 players seeking to be drafted is England international Alex Hales who was recently omitted from his country’s World Cup squad after a marijuana possession incident. His countryman and left-arm pacer David Willey who is in England’s World Cup team is also listed. Top-rated Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, along with more than 80 Pakistanis including top internationals Junaid Khan, Yasir Shah and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi have put their names before prospective buyers. Also in the mix is rising Pakistan batting star Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of Pakistan great Inzamam ul Haq.
Speaking ahead of the draft, tournament operations director Michael Hall, said the increased number of players registering reflected the growth of the annual showpiece.
“The fact that so many players have registered for our draft is a testament to the stature of our league,” said the Jamaican.
“Playing cricket in the Caribbean is something that all players look forward to, and the CPL combines that allure with a high standard of cricket. We expect that this year’s tournament will be no different.”
The 24-year-old Archer is one of the most sought after bowlers in T20 franchise cricket and has already penned million dollar contracts with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League and Hobart Hurricanes in the Australian Big Bash.
He represented West Indies at Under-19 level but has spurned approaches by Cricket West Indies to play for the senior regional side. He qualified to represent England through his father. Archer made his England debut two weeks ago after satisfying the eligibility criteria and is now widely expected to force his way into the ICC World Cup squad. Speculation is also rife that he will feature in the Ashes which runs from August 1 to September 16 in England.
This would mark the first occasion Archer would be featuring in the CPL which is scheduled to take place from September 4 to October 12.
Imam, meanwhile, has already raised several eyebrows especially in the shorter forms of the game. He averages 60 from 27 One-Day Internationals and though he has played just one T20 International, he has made his mark in 43 T20s with an average of 35.
India has previously not allowed their internationals to play in T20 tournaments outside the Indian Premier League. However, former Indian international Irfan Pathan, 34, is among the 2019 draft prospects. Pathan, who made his Test debut at age 19 and was once considered the replacement for the legendary Kapil Dev, has had a career plagued with injuries. He last featured in international cricket in the 2012 World Twenty20 Tournament played in Sri Lanka. He was part of the Chennai Super Kings squad in 2015 but did not play a single game due to injury.
Franchises will be able to retain or acquire up to six players prior to the May 22 draft. This number must comprise a minimum of three West Indies players, a maximum of one overseas player or no overseas players if the franchise opts for its maximum of four Caribbean players. A marquee player must also be named among that six along with an ICC Americas player.
More than 170 West Indian cricketers are seeking to be drafted.
The CPL will be in its seventh year and features six franchises – Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, St Lucia Stars and two-time reigning champions, Trinbago Knight Riders.
All retentions will be announced during the live broadcast of the player draft which will be broadcast on the Hero CPL social media channels from 2 p.m. GMT on May 22.
The final list of players who have made themselves available for the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League has been sent to teams ahead of the draft. (CPL/WG)