CPL committed to youth development

– aiming to develop a cricketer from the hinterland

By Akeem Greene

2017 will feature the fifth edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the   one the major aims still remains to harness young talents.
CPL’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Pete Russell in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times Sport on Thursday explained that   the management of the league is still committed to development of cricket across the region and it is evident in the investment they are making.

Shimron Hetmyer is one talented player that can use the CPL as a launch-pad for an already blossoming career (Marceano Narine photo)
Shimron Hetmyer is one talented player that can use the CPL as a launch-pad for an already blossoming career (Marceano Narine photo)

“We are very aware of our commitment to development across the region, we put US$360,000 a year into the WICB[now Cricket West Indies], to help them develop the game, they put that into the four-day game from a financial prospective we are doing our bit”, Russell  revealed.
However, the CPL Executive   further revealed that the league does not want to limit their investment to finances but rather have a direct impact on the nurturing of young talents.
“We want to do more, what we are looking to do in Guyana is a good example, we very much want     to take the game into the Hinterland, my big thing is to try and find a future Test cricketer that comes from the jungle; it is all about how we can develop the game in these regions, it is a great opportunity for us and we will be looking to initiatives to bring all these guys closer to the game”, he further explained.
These illustrious goals of the “Biggest Party in Sport” cannot alone be the burden of the body as Russell felt partnership with   government and local boards are critical.
While being satisfied with overall progress of  unearthing  new talents Russell still believes more  can be done but is buoyed by the impact young Ravmon Powell has on West Indies cricket. The Jamaica Tallawahs all-rounder catapulted unto the world scene after  reaping success in CPL 2016 and has now earned an Indian Premier League contract, in addition to playing for the West Indies.
Currently, the leagues promote each franchise to have under-19 players apart of the training squads and last year players from the wining West Indies under-19 were bought by franchises.
The COO is looking ahead to scout players from the local club system and integrate them into the league with the aim of producing a West Indies cricketer.
He stated “if we can create that conveyor belt of talent, where we are spotting the guys in the junior leagues or club cricket and bring them into CPL and then march them through the ranks then that’s deemed a success, what we have do generally is get persons back interested in the grass root level but is going to take time, and it has to be done in conjunction with WICB, governments and local cricket boards”.
Quizzed on whether the league would take the bold move to ensure that under-23 players start in the playing XI, Russell  responded saying that though it is a possibility in the future, it has its risks.
He explained that, “you have to remember it is a harsh world in the professional sport and one thing you don’t want to do is put that pressure on a young kid who potentially has to play every game and is not in the best of form but the team coaches have not shied-away from selecting the under19 players and that his how it supposed to be”.
The Hero CPL is set to take place from August 1 to September 9, with the player draft slated for March 10 in Barbados.