CPL Draft 2014 Preview: Big Signings, Bargains, Prospects and Key Points

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

CPL Draft 2014 Preview: Big Signings, Bargains, Prospects and Key Points

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    While lacking a little of the "mainstream polish" of the IPL or the BBL, the inaugural Caribbean Premier League was a resounding success with action packed cricket and a carnival atmosphere helping to put the event firmly on the map.

    Now, as the summer of 2014 finally threatens to reveal itself, this year's edition of the extravaganza is being finalised with the draft due to take place on Thursday.

    Let's take a look at which of the players could fetch a large price, some who won't and also a trio of highly-rated prospects who could make a name for themselves in this year's CPL.

Format

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    Chris Gayle's Jamaica Tallawahs defeated Guyana Amazon Warriors in the final of last year's event to become the first CPL champions.

    And this season's tournament is expected to follow the same format.

    • Defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs will once again be competing against Antigua Hawksbills, Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St. Lucia Zouks and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel.
    • Matches will be contested in July and August (official fixtures not confirmed at time of writing).
    • In 2013, every team played seven group matches (admittedly a strange number of games but primarily designed around multiple teams playing at one venue for a few days thus easing travel time) in a league format with the bottom two sides being eliminated at the end of the group stage.
    • The four remaining teams went on to contest a classic knockout format i.e. semi-finals then final.

Teams

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    Before the draft has even taken place, every team has been pre-allocated two high profile players; one a West Indian-based player and the other an international star.

    This has been done to try and retain a sense of identity for the teams (i.e. Chris Gayle playing for Jamaica) which would likely be lost if the squads were decided through an open auction.

     

    Jamaica Tallawahs

    Last year: Champions.

    Group record: W5 L2

    WIFP: Chris Gayle

    IFP: Muttiah Muralitharan

     

    Barbados Tridents

    Last year: Beaten semi-finalists.

    Group record: W4 L3

    WIFP: Kieron Pollard

    IFP: Shoaib Malik


    Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel

    Last year: Beaten semi-finalists despite posting a losing record in the group stages.

    Group record: W3 L4

    WIFP: Dwayne Bravo

    IFP: Ross Taylor


    Guyana Amazon Warriors

    Last year: Runners up. Finished top of the group on run rate.

    Group record: W5 L2

    WIFP: Sunil Narine

    IFP: Corey Anderson 

     

    St Lucia Zouks

    Last year: Wooden spoon.

    Group record: W2 L5

    WIFP: Darren Sammy

    IFP: Brad Hodge


    Antigua Hawksbills

    Last year: Second from bottom of the group courtesy of run rate.

    Group record: W2 L5

    WIFP: Marlon Samuels

    IFP: Saeed Ajmal

     

    Key

    WIFP: West Indies Franchise Player

    IFP: International Franchise Player

Draft

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    This year's draft is taking place in Jamaica on the 3 April and will include over 220 players, many of which will be overseas stars. 

    Main rules:

    • Two "marquee" names, one West Indian and one international have already been pre-allocated to teams (see previous slide)
    • Each franchise must also include six local players registered to the cricket board of the relevant country in their squad of 19.
    • A maximum of three international players are allowed per squad.
    • There is a salary cap of $350,000 for each team.
    • The players will be chosen in rounds, with a first-round player receiving $80,000, a second-round player $70,000 and so on. Thus, it isn't an open auction system similar to the IPL. 

    See the official site's draft page for full rules and regulations.

    Now, read on to see who are the big fish in this year's 2014 CPL auction.

3. Kumar Sangakkara

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Whoever signs Sri Lanka's classiest export gets not only a match-winning batsman and an underrated wicketkeeper but also a great cricketing brain.

    The 36-year-old, who has captained his country in all formats, has scored nearly 4,000 runs in T20 cricket at a strike rate of 123.79.

2. Shahid Afridi

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    Gallo Images/Getty Images

    The legendary Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi is sure to make an impact for whichever side acquires his signature.

    Whether with ball or with bat, the man known as "Boom Boom" can cause or create havoc in equal measure at any second...and it's this unpredictability that makes him one of the most watchable players in the game.

    According to the official CPLT20 website, Afridi had this to say about the forthcoming CPL:

    I’ve heard great things from everybody who took part in CPL last year so I jumped at the opportunity to enter the Draft. The Caribbean has always been home to some of the biggest hitters in the world, so I think I’d fit in well!

1. Kevin Pietersen

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    Andres Leighton

    Easily the biggest name in the draft is Kevin Pietersen. The enigmatic stroke-maker played a key part in England's 2010 T20 World Cup triumph in the Caribbean batting in the key No. 3 role.

    And now, with his international career seemingly done and dusted, the 33-year-old match-winning batsman is sure to be the coveted signature of the entire CPL draft.

    As per usual with KP, things aren't straightforward with the South African-born star seemingly planning to "commute" between the Caribbean and England, thus allowing him to play in the T20 Blast at the same time.

    But despite the baggage, 2,402 runs from just 82 innings added to his ability to play spectacular innings will keep Pietersen at the top of everyone's shopping list.

Other Big Names

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    A.M. Ahad

    There's is plenty of other top-drawer talent available. Here's a brief look at 10 of them:

     

    Mahela Jayawardene: He may be getting on a little but the 36-year-old is still one of the world's top batsman as evidenced by his 89 off 51 balls recently against England.

     

    Daniel Vettori: Injuries have impacted the Kiwi all-rounder's contributions of late but anyone who boasts a 6.36 economy rate from 111 matches of bowling is a valuable T20 addition.

     

    Shakib Al Hasan: Arguably Bangladesh's finest ever player, the all-rounder can win games with both bat and ball and has plenty of worldwide experience.

     

    Shaun Tait: Don't expect much finesse from the Australian right-armer whose game is based purely around bowling fast. And 157 wickets from 118 innings of T20 bowling is evidence of his success.

     

    Umar Akmal: The talented Pakistani batsman has had a topsy-turvy career but, as per his recent 94 off just 54 balls against Australia, the 23-year-old can play.

     

    David Hussey: With over 5,500 runs, Hussey is currently the third-highest run-scorer in T20 history. The Victorian is capable of playing a wide range of innings and adds experience to any middle-order.

     

    Junaid Khan: Left-arm paceman Junaid Khan's reputation continues to grow and his variation and control makes him a useful addition to any bowling attack.

     

    Jesse Ryder: The bludgeoning Black Caps opening batsman scores runs at a ferocious pace with a game tailor-made to the demands of T20 cricket.

     

    Vernon Philander: Arguably more suited to the longer forms of the game, the South African seamer still brings big game pedigree to the table and is no mug with the bat either.

     

    Tillekaratne Dilshan: So good he's got his own personalised shot, Dilshan's returns have waned a little of late but he's still capable of getting an innings off to a flier.

Bargain Bin

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    While a lot of focus will be on the big names in the draft, the sheer amount of players signed up for consideration means there are more bargains than the clearance section of a pound shop.

    Here are a few players who, while most likely cheap, could provide exceptional value for money.

     

    Tom Cooper: The Netherlands' new star, by way of Australia, has hit the ground running in international cricket and facing top calibre attacks hasn't fazed him. While he's sure to be down the pecking order of the draft his ability to score quickly could secure him a contract.

     

    Adam Voges: The quiet, unassuming Australian is a vastly underrated cricketer and has the ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over or go in search of rapid runs if required. Throw in his more-than-useful slow bowling and he could be a useful squad member.

     

    Simon Jones: England's former Ashes hero retired from first-class cricket last season but remains available for T20 action around the world. While his record isn't mind-blowing in the shortest form of the game, the Welshman's experience and know-how indicate he won't let anyone down.

     

    Richard Levi: Limited-overs specialist Levi only knows one way to bat and has had a lot of success at the top of orders in T20 competitions around the world.

     

    Kevin O'Brien: One of those cricketers who seemingly lacks the technique required to survive a first-class examination but capable of playing sensational innings in the shortest form of the game.

     

    Ben Dunk: The left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman was relatively unknown before this year's BBL competition. However, 395 runs later, and the 27-year-old is one of T20 cricket's hottest properties.

Prospects

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    And finally, let's take a look at some of the up and coming West Indian youngsters who could make a breakthrough during this year's tournament.

     

    Evin Lewis: Talented opening batsman Evin Lewis has already shown he can perform on the big stage by scoring 211 runs at the 2013 Champions League T20 in India. The tall left-hander has only played a handful of first-class matches for Trinidad and Tobago but averages over 35.00 in the shortest form of the game.

     

    Nicolas Pooran: It's very early days but 18-year-old Nicolas Pooran is beginning to attract attention. A score of 143 in the U19 World Cup quarter-final against Australia helped, but the wicketkeeper-batsman also scored a half-century on his CPL debut last season (see video) in an innings that included six sixes.

     

    Sheldon Cottrell: OK, so he's already has a taste of international cricket but the 24-year-old has the character to become a key figure for the West Indies. The left-armer has taken 22 wickets in 16 T20 games so far and dismisses all his victims with a military salute. One to watch.