T20 tournament to bowl off in region next year
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados:Cricket fans around the Caribbean and the world will get an opportunity to see their favourite players parade their skills in a regional Twenty20 franchise-based club league next year.
The league, which will be similar to that of the now popular Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Australia Big Bash League, will be known as the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and will eventually replace the existing country-based Caribbean Twenty20 tournament.
"A professional league of this nature and magnitude has been talked about for years. And, happily, it is now a reality," said West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president, Dr Julian Hunte, at the official launch of the tournament in Bridgetown, Barbados, yesterday.
"In the coming year, we'll have the first edition in which regional players will have opportunities right here in the Caribbean like they have not had before.
"They will earn more, have greater financial stability, and they will have a global platform on which to display their skills and expertise in the game," Hunte added.
The CPL, which is earmarked to last a month, will be jointly owned and operated by merchant banking firm Verus International, based on a 20-year licensing arrangement with the WICB and the sport's regional governing body.
Verus International, which has experience in private sector banking and investment, has offices in Bridgetown, and New York, USA.
"We are pleased to announce our long-term partnership and investment in the Caribbean here today," said Versus International Chairman and CEO, Ajmal Khan.
"As the ICC World T20 champions, it is only fitting that a high- quality, well-financed franchise-based T20 League be solidified in the West Indies so as to showcase the best talents available.
"The CPL will offer great economic opportunities for all cricket stakeholders throughout the region and is something we at Verus International are sure will excite everyone, not only cricket fans," Khan added.
The launch was attended by several former West Indies players, including fast bowlers Wes Hall and Joel Garner, current West Indies team officials, government officials and local dignitaries.
"It is a good initiative, and one can only hope that it will be organised in such a way that it assists players in becoming more professional at what they do," said Garner, president of the Barbados Cricket Association and aWICB director.
"I have always maintained that talent alone will not make players successful, and if this can lead to better infrastructure and player development then West Indies cricket will be better for it," Garner added.
The CPL, which will in the first season feature six city-based teams from several Caribbean countries, will in the coming months stage a series of press conferences in which details pertaining to tournament partners, dates and venues will be announced.