WEST Indies and Saint Lucia Zouks hard hitting batsman, Rakeem Cornwall and Windward Islands and Saint Lucia Under 15 all-rounder Daren Sammy Jr were the biggest picks, with Gros Islet Knights (GIK) and Avatar City Blasters (ACB) going for them respectively in the first round of the Saint Lucia Premier League (SPL) T20 2020 drafts held recently at the Bay Gardens Inn, Rodney Bay.
In attendance were CEO SPL T20 – Hasan Eristhee; Director of Sports – Patrick Mathurin; representatives of the former national district champions Laborie Pride, representatives from all the participating teams to include the likes of John Eugene, Johnson Charles, Kimani Melius, Alton Crafton and Eugena Gregg; specially invited guests and members of the media.
In the first-round pick, Gros Islet Knights (GIK) selected Collinus Calender. Callender a hard-hitting top order batsman and left arm medium fast bowler is expected to add some flare to the lineup which includes West Indies Under 19 World Cup captain and opening batsman Kimani Melius, Taryck Gabriel and Vidal Crandon.
Gros Islet Knights line up also include West Indies and Saint Lucia Zouks top order batsman and right arm off break bowler 27-years-old Rahkeem Cornwall. Cornwall is considered to be one of the most feared batsmen in the region on any given day. Other individuals picked on the night included – Vernillius Gabriel, Lee Solomon, Simeon Gerson, Udell Preville and Ryan Goodman.
In 2019 Gros Islet finish fourth and according to Alton Crafton, Coach of Gros Islet Knights they have signaled their intention to turn the tables around in 2020.
Also in the first round – Mon Repos Pioneers (MRP) picked – Evanus Emmanuel; Choiseul Craft Masters – Canice Richardson; Mabouya Valley Renegades – Alex Joseph; South Castries Lions – Garey Mathurin; Soufriere Stumpers (SS) – Kevin Augustin; City Blasters – Zaire Antoine and Laborie Pride – Murlan Sammy.
In the second round pick – Soufriere Stumpers (SS) – Valange St.Ange; City Blasters – Darren Sammy Jr; Mabouya Valley – Keon Gaston; South Castries – Kemrol Charles; Choiseul Craft Masters – Nick Joseph and Laborie Pride -Sky La Feuille.
The selection of former West Indies left arm orthodox spinner, 36 years old Garey Mathurin, on the South Castries Lions team has sparked some interest and it is still uncertain as to whether Mathurin will be coming as a player or coach. Mathurin last played for the West Indies in 2012 against Australia in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The Lions made SPL history by becoming the first team to have three former West Indies players in their squad. The former champions retained the services of opening batsmen Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles for the 4th edition of the SPL.
Also included in their lineup are – Daniel Jn Baptiste, Nickson Edmund, Wendell Inglis and Craig Elisee.
Avatar City Blasters (ACB) also have the first active father and son combination in the tournament. With their second pick in the draft, ACB went for Windward Islands Under 15 all-rounder Daren Sammy Jr. He will join his father and former West Indies two-time ICC World T20 Champion Daren Sammy, in the team that retained the services of the only century maker thus far in SPL, 100 versus Soufriere Stumpers opening batsman Gaspard Prosper. Other players in the squad include – Wade Clovis, Kimani Sexius, Rayhym Joseph and Caleb Thomas.
New comers Laborie Pride in their first pick, grab on to fast bowler, Murlan Sammy, the brother of Daren Sammy. In round 3, 4, 5, and 6 they picked -Mateo Bologne; Sanjay Pamphille; Romain Ramroach and Rick Moses in that order.
Mon Repos Pioneers also picked up – Dichiege Henry, Michael Charlery, Kendall Samuel, Ted Mathurin.
Mabouya Valley Renegades also went for – Dale Smith, Christian St.Ange, Orey Changoo, Randal Rithal.
Defending champions Choiseul Craft Masters also have in their mix, Yohan Williams; Alvin La Feuille and Kervin Gasse.
Choiseul Craft Masters is still in with a surprise as they are still in negotiations to include overseas players in their lineup.
The tournament bowls off on Friday 15th May from 7.30 p.m. at the Phillip Marcellin Ground (PMG) with former champions South Castries Lions taking on Mon Repos Pioneers.
On Saturday 16th Soufriere Stumpers versus Avatar City Blasters at 3.00 p.m. and Choiseul Craft Masters plays Mabouya Valley Renegades at 7.00 p.m.
On Sunday 17th, Mon Repos Pioneers versus Soufriere Stumpers at 3.00 p.m. and Laborie Pride takes on Gros Islet Knights at 7.00 p.m. Both matches are schedule for the Phillip Marcellin Grond.
The tournament heads to the north for two mid-week clashes between Kimani Melius, Gros Islet Knights against Mabouya Valley Renegades on Tuesday 19th May from 7.0 p.m. and the following day, South Castries Lions plays Avatar City Blasters at 7.00 p.m. at the Gros Islet playing field.
Choiseul Craftmasters, defending champions, will play their second game of the tournament on Friday 22nd May at the PMG with new-comers Laborie Pride.
The semifinal and finals are scheduled for Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May at the PMG.