Seven teams are just too much for the Caribbean Premier League at this time. According to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the CPL, that is the reason the Antigua Hawksbills will not be a part of the third edition of the Digicel-run Twenty20 tournament this year.
Yesterday, COO Pete Russell told the Express that with St Kitts and Nevis acquiring a new franchise, the League could not still accommodate the Hawksbills.
“We haven’t terminated the (Antigua) franchise,” he said. “The rationale behind it is we have a window which the WICB gave us within which we have to play all the games. It’s impossible with the window for us to play more than six teams.”
This year’s competition is scheduled to take place from June 21 to July 26. And Russell said fitting in a seventh team would be extra difficult because of the expanded playing schedule in 2015.
“Each team will play ten games,” Russell said yesterday. “That’s the first time that’s happening. Each team will play each other twice. In our view, the format is as it should be, We couldn’t fit seven teams into the format.”
Tilting the balance away from Antigua, Russell also explained was the lack of an owner for the Antigua franchise which had been sponsored by Virgin Atlantic over the first two seasons.
“The reason for doing what we’ve done, we got to make sure of the long-term sustainability of the league. The sustainability of the team is ensured by each team having its own owner.”
Russell said the government of Antigua and Barbuda where the Hawksbills were based had been aware that the island could lose the team.
“We’ve been speaking to the government for some time,” he said. “They’ve known that this was a possibility. We’ve given them the option as to how they could have kept the team, that was obviously getting an owner there. For 2015 we felt St Kitts was the right move.”
Russell would not name the new franchise owner, but said all would be revealed this week. He did say however that the new owner was not interested in keeping the team in Antigua.
“Obviously he has interest in St Kitts,” said Russell, who also noted that the Leeward Islands would not be losing a franchise. “It won’t affect the local players,” he added.
Yesterday, the CPL also stated via press release that the new St Kitts and Nevis franchise would be taking over the players from the Hawksbills. CPL franchises can retain a maximum of four players ahead of Thursday’s draft, and the new St Kitts franchise has chosen to retain Carlos Brathwaite, Devon Thomas, Orlando Peters and Justin Athanaze but not captain Marlon Samuels, who will now go into Thursday’s draft. Samuels was one of the leading batsmen in the CPL for 2014, despite his side winning just one of their nine matches.
Asked about Samuels not being retained, Russell said, “I wouldn’t read too much into that. The whole retaining of players is very much a tactical process. I think he’ll be picked up at the top level.”
Following is the list of retained players:
Barbados Tridents – Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik, Dwayne Smith, Ravi Rampaul
Guyana Amazon Warriors – Sunil Narine, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Christopher Barnwell
Jamaica Tallawahs – Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton
St Kitts & Nevis – Carlos Brathwaite, Devon Thomas, Orlando Peters, Justin Athanaze
St Lucia Zouks – Darren Sammy, Kevin Pietersen, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher
Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel – Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Samuel Badree, Kevon Cooper.