St. Lucia: West Indies captain Darren Sammy has embraced the multi-million dollar Caribbean T20 Premier League (CPL), terming its emergence as a "special time," in the regional game.
The CPL, which will replace the current Caribbean Twenty20, was officially launched in Barbados on Monday. It will be bankrolled by Barbados-based merchant bank Verus International and will comprise six privately-owned franchises throughout the Caribbean. "This is a special time in West Indies cricket as we launch what promises to be one of the best tournaments on the cricket calendar," said Sammy on Wednesday.
"It comes at a time when we in the West Indies are kings of the Twenty20 format. We are the world champions and we have some of the best players in the world. Our players have created an impact all across the globe."
Sammy was responsible for leading the West Indies to the Twenty20 World Cup victory in October when the regional side beat hosts Sri Lanka in a thrilling final. Already, a plethora of West Indies players are in high demand in the myriad of T20 leagues around the world, with Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels the most sought after.
Sammy, who is yet to play in any of the international T20 leagues, said it was important that the Caribbean had its own professional set-up. "The time is right for the Caribbean Premier League. Cricketers across the Caribbean will benefit from this immensely. I, for sure, am looking forward to participating in the tournament. It promises to be some great entertainment, which players and the spectators will all enjoy," Sammy noted.
The deal, brokered by former crikcet board CEO Ernest Hilaire, will also see the WICB receiving annual funding to expand the current number of retainer contracts for players and for general developmental programmes.
Sammy pointed out that perhaps the most critical spin-off would be the funds to help develop the game regionally. "What is also exciting for me is the number of young cricketers who could benefit from this new initiative. The WICB has done some good work on the grassroots and developmental programmes, and with additional funding more players will have a chance in cricket and in life," Sammy explained.