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Saint Lucia’s squad for the inaugural season of the Caribbean Premier League T20 is set following today’s draft.
West Indies franchise player Darren Sammy was the first man assigned to his home team, which starts play against Barbados on July 30 in Bridgetown. The all-rounder was joined last week by international franchise player, Herschelle Gibbs, an opening batsman from South Africa.
At the same time, former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts and former England batsman were named as coach and assistant coach, respectively. Maynard coaches Gibbs with South Africa’s domestic T20 champions, the Nashua Titans.
On Wednesday, Roberts and Maynard met in Jamaica to select the players who would complete the Saint Lucia team, with Sammy joining them via Skype from England, where he is in camp with the West Indies team for the Champions Trophy.
Saint Lucia’s first pick was another Titans player, and Gibbs’ fellow South African, 31-year-old all-rounder Albie Morkel. A medium pacer and an aggressive batsman, he will be a prized asset for the Beausejour-based franchise. Another 31-year-old, veteran Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Tino Best was up next.
A genuine pacer and pugnacious lower-order batsman, Best has a great deal of T20 experience at the club level, though he has just two matches for the regional team in that format. Typically ebullient, Best responded to his selection on Twitter, “Well I’m taking my talents tooooooooooo St.Lucia babyyyyyyyyyy booooommmmmmmmmm.”
Having taken a specialist bowler, Saint Lucia then went for a specialist batsman, a second opener in the person of Tamim Iqbal. The 24-year-old left-handed Bangladeshi is one of the rising stars of world cricket. His style and verve have earned him stints with teams in the Indian Premier League, in New Zealand and England, and now in the Caribbean.
The batting lineup was further solidified with the addition of West Indies legend, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The Guyanese icon and former West Indies captain hit the fourth fastest Test hundred off 69 balls.
Next up for Saint Lucia was a pair of Windward Islands and West Indies players, Shane Shillingford and Devon Smith. Both gentlemen had outstanding seasons for the Windwards in 2013, as they helped guide the sub-regional team to the Super50 title and T20 semifinals.
Shillingford is a dominant off-break bowler from the Commonwealth of Dominica, whilst opening batsman Smith scored heavily in all formats of the game this year. The latter, a Grenadian, is presently on assignment with the West Indies alongside Sammy in England.
Another Grenadian, Andre Fletcher, was the seventh-round selection. A top-order batsman, Fletcher was just 20 when he opened the innings opposite Chris Gayle for the Stanford SuperStars in 2008. On that occasion, the Superstars – which also featured Sammy and Chanderpaul – beat England in the 20/20 for $20 million match in 2008.
Fletcher and Gayle added 101 for the opening wicket. Two spin-bowling allrounders followed Fletcher. Saint Lucia’s Garey Mathurin was Man of the Match for West Indies against England at the Oval in 2010. He bowls left-arm orthodox. Liam Sebastien, a Dominican right-arm offbreak bowler, led the Windward Islands for much of the 2013 domestic season.
The 10th and 11th picks for Saint Lucia comprised a pair of under-23 players. Dalton Polius is a Saint Lucian middle-order batsman, who is presently at the West Indies High Performance Centre. Kavem Hodge is another middle-order batsman, this time from Dominica. He has represented West Indies up to the under-19 level, including last year’s Youth World Cup. The squad was completed with a pair of pace bowlers, 31-year-old Vincentian left-hander Kenroy Peters, and 26-year-old West Indies speedster, Nelon Pascal.
Coach Maynard professed himself pleased with the results of the Draft process: “CPLT20 draft finally concluded,” he said on Twitter. “I have to say, we are very happy with the balance and quality of our squad #StLucia.”
The Saint Lucia team plays three home games at the Beausejour Stadium. The first is August 6 versus Antigua-Barbuda, who took Saint Lucia’s Johnson Charles with the first pick of the draft to join Marlon Samuels, Ricky Ponting and Kieron Powell in what appears to be a powerful batting lineup. Saint Lucia plays Kieron Pollard’s Barbados for a second time on August 8, and then takes on Chris Gayle’s Jamaica on August 10.
The other teams in this tournament are Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. Team nicknames are yet to be declared by the CPL. All six teams have until Thursday to effect any trades. Based on the Draft, this is my best guess as to Saint Lucia’s likeliest playing XI:
1. Devon Smith
2. Herschelle Gibbs
3. Tamim Iqbal
4. Andre Fletcher
5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
6. Albie Morkel
7. Darren Sammy
8. Liam Sebastien
9. Shane Shillingford
10. Tino Best
11. Nelon Pascal
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