The HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is set to feature a galaxy of international talent – including Twenty20 heavyweights Francois “Faf” du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Watson – who have all been confirmed into the Player Draft which is set to take place in Barbados on Thursday, 11 February.
This will be the inaugural inclusion of marquee international players in the CPL Draft and they need little introduction having been ranked amongst the game’s leading T20 exponents in recent years.
A prolific run-getter, McCullum was the first international player to reach 1,000 runs in T20 history and the New Zealander has two international T20 centuries having featured in 71 T20 Internationals.
Proteas batsman du Plessis is currently ranked fourth on the ICC T20 Batting rankings, gripping the global cricketing public with a series of electrifying displays across all formats for many years.
Experienced Australian all-rounder Watson, a two-time ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) champion in 2007 and 2015, as well as his country’s T20 player of the year in 2012 and 2013, will also get his first taste of CPL action.
The CPL are also pleased to announce the identities of the other two marquee players who will both be returning for another stint at the biggest party in sport.
Black Caps’ batsman Martin Guptill (who incidentally holds the world record ODI score of 237 not out achieved against the West Indies in Wellington during the ICC CWC 2015) currently lies in fifth place in the World T20 batting rankings.
Sri Lanka’s ICC World T20 2014 winner Kumar Sangakkara is one of the most decorated and respected players at all levels in the history of the game. A former captain of his country, who scored 287 in what remains a world record Test partnership of 624 with Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar scored over 28,016 runs in 594 games across all three formats, and boasts an impressive T20 strike rate of over 120 in 56 internationals.
The identity of the final marquee player will be announced closer to the Draft but rumours abound that South African star AB De Villiers is headed to the CPL.
All marquee players will enter the Player Draft and will each be assigned to one of the six franchises from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.
The 2016 edition of the CPL is set to be played over a six-week period from the end of June until the first week of August, with this year’s fixtures to be announced in due course.
Each squad has increased from 15 to 17 players (though franchises also have an option to have a current West Indies Cricket Board player as part of their squad) which must include the following; one ‘marquee’ player, one representative from the ICC Americas, one West Indies Under-19, five overseas (with four permitted to feature in any matchday starting XI) and 10 West Indies qualified players.
Speaking ahead of the Player Draft on February 11, CPL CEO Damien O’Donohoe said: “We are hugely excited about the fourth season of CPL and we believe that this is our most exciting line up of talent to date.
“For players of the calibre and international standing of Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Watson to commit to the CPL is a significant endorsement of the growing stature of the CPL internationally.
“We are excited about welcoming them, as well as a host of local and international talent, to the Caribbean once more. Plans are well underway for this year’s competition and I know that each of the players are enthusiastic about playing to the best of their abilities for the West Indies public and in representing their franchises with pride this summer.”
CPL Director of International Cricket Tom Moody added: “With the confirmation of these marquee players, the CPL is now truly established as one of the leading T20 leagues and compares favorably with the likes of the IPL and Big Bash League.
“We are entering into a fascinating year of T20 cricket, with a number of players in this year’s Draft set to feature for their countries in the forthcoming ICC World T20 in India, as well as in other leading domestic T20 competitions.
“With the West Indies currently sitting atop the World T20 team rankings, we believe that the top quality signings of iconic and hugely decorated marquee players demonstrate CPL’s intentions to captivate the attention of both the West Indies public and cricket followers globally.”
The full list of players to be enrolled in the Draft will be unveiled on Tuesday.