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Pressure on us, says CPL boss

Pollard, Narine, Bravo among franchise players but...

By Garth Wattley garth.wattley@trinidadexpress.com

The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has been launched; six franchise players have been named. But other details about the Caribbean's first franchise-based professional cricket series remain unclear. Like who are the teams the players will represent.

At the Sandy Lane Country club in Barbados on Tuesday evening, before an audience that included officials of the West Indies Cricket Board, the Guyana government and West Indies cricket legends, merchant bank, Verus International officials attempted to give details about their Caribbean Premier League.

CEO of Verus, Dirk Hall laid out the dates for the tournament for the next three years. This year's inaugural edition will run from July 29 to August 26, while the 2014 and 2015 editions will be staged from July 5 to August 10 and June 21 to July 26 respectively.

And in a presentation embellished by video clips and spectacular stage effects, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo were announced as the marquee players for the six franchises that will contest the CPL.

Samuels, currently recuperating from an eye injury sustained in the Australian Big Bash T20 series, was the only one of the six able to be present.

The CPL says that it is also looking to get six international franchise players, one for each franchise and overseas players will be limited to four per team.

However, the identities of the franchises themselves and their owners have still not been finalised.

"We are still negotiating with potential owners so we can't disclose any particular name," CEO Hall said. "We are looking at a range of potential owners, anyone from a celebrity to a local business or a regional business or a potentially global business. When we start finalising those negotiations we will certainly be announcing them."

It was also announced that Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia were to be the islands to have franchise teams. But CEO Hall also stressed that negotiations with these territories were ongoing, and he named others, including St Kitts/Nevis as also being under consideration for teams.

Asked how the CPL was going to deal with the ongoing impasse between the Guyana Government and the Guyana Cricket Board/West Indies Cricket Board which prevented international cricket from being played in Guyana in 2012, Hall responded this way: "We are not here to be in the politics of West Indies cricket...That's a question that is better suited to the West Indian cricket board and the Guyanese government, it's not what we will engage in...It's for them to resolve."

In his speech, WICB president Dr Julian Hunte stated again that there is, "an agreement which will allow for regional retainer contracts for a broad pool of players." These contracts Hunte said will be funded by the CPL to the tune of US$360,000.

However, asked later what category of player would be covered by the retainers, Hunte told the Express, "I am not sure that that has been clarified as yet...What you heard from Verus is that some of these variables are still being discussed. As far as I am concerned the retainer contracts would be a mix between the local players if you want, and depending on who was available for retainer contracts at a higher level. I am not sure."

Meanwhile, founder and chairman of the CPL, Ajmal Khan said the League would only be a success with support from all sectors of the region.

"We need all the help we can get. We need everyone to help us and rowing in the same direction."

He added: "This is not a one-man show. I don't believe in that first of all. This is not about me, this is not about my ego, this is not about the money I have. This is about creating and building something in partnership with everyone to make this exciting."

But he also admitted that with the July start just over five months away, "there is a lot of time pressure on us but we're willing to put pedal to the metal to get this thing done."

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