Two Saint Lucians, including former West Indies limited-overs opening batsman Johnson Charles, have been included in the Windward Islands franchise team for the upcoming first class cricket season.
The hard-hitting 25-year-old from Millet is Saint Lucia’s 2013 Sportsman of the Year.
He has been named alongside Windward Islands middler order batsman Keddy Lesporis in the 10 players who will automatically be part of the Windward Islands setup, along with allrounder and West Indies Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy.
Sammy is eligible to be part of the final team as the only Windward Islands player with a West Indies retainer contract.
The remainder of the first 10 includes current and former West Indies players in off spinner Shane Shillingford (Dominica), opener Devon Smith (Grenada), and batsman / wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher (Grenada).
Pacer Kenroy Peters (St Vincent & the Grenadines) was the leading wicket taker in the last domestic first class season, under the leadership of allrounder Liam Sebastien (Dominica). Young Sunil Ambris (St Vincent & the Grenadines) had a strong season with the bat.
He, Smith, Charles, Lesporis and Fletcher will form the core of the batting unit with Tyrone Theophile (Dominica), whilst Delorn Johnson (St Vincent & the Grenadines) will look to form good bowling partnerships with Shillingford, Peters and Sebastien.
Fifteen players have also been named by the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control to enter the first class Draft, which is to be held on Friday 3 October in Bridgetown, Barbados.
A total of 90 players from around the region will be available to any of the six participating franchise teams, meaning the Windward Islands can pick five more players, either their own or any of those available from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands or Trinidad & Tobago.
Three more Saint Lucians are in the 15 Windward Islands players available in Friday’s Draft. Allrounder Dalton Polius, spinner Gairey Mathurin and young batsman Tarryck Gabriel have been included.
Also in the Draft is former Test quick, Nelon Pascal. The Draft will also comprise Mervin Matthew, Ray Jordan, Romel Currency, Alston Bobb, Preston Mc Sween, Jian Benjamin, Miles Bascombe, Lindon James, Kevin Hodge, Jerlani Robinson and Kenneth Dembar.
The team will be run by a company formed under the auspices of the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control.
The company will get US $45,000 per month from the West Indies Cricket Board to fund its operations under the new collective bargaining agreement and memorandum of understanding signed last month between the regional governing body and the West Indies Players Association.
The first class season runs from November to June and covers 10 rounds in the league or round-robin phase. A total of 105 players will be contracted by the franchises to play professional cricket for close to eight months.