The biggest party in sport is a reflection of the culture and voie de vivre that emanates from the Caribbean spirit, one which is all about opportunities and chances.
The Caribbean Premier League (CPL), now in its fifth season has made some tremendous strides in setting the platform for players who are from the International Cricket Council (ICC) affiliate countries, having established a tradition of drafting players from the countries.
T20 cricket and by extension franchise cricket has become the benchmark players market themselves to be snatched up by the big name teams. We see the money being poured into the sport, we see the atmosphere of a world cup set up all being infused into one big extravaganza, however, the CPL was the first tournament to include players who seldom get a chance to show their skills and earn some big money.
In the North American region, there has been a steady crop of young vibrant players who have adopted cricket into their main sport, and with the expansion of CPL to Florida, USA back in 2016, it can be expected that more talents from this region will be making an impact in the CPL.
We have already seen the likes of Nikhail Dutta and Steven Taylor lighting up the CPL as well as Timroy Allen, Nitish Kumar, Ali Khan and Hamza Tariq all being purchased for various franchises.
Like Canada and USA, Afganistan are fairly newcomers to the sport but have shocked a number of teams who have been in the sport for decades such as Ireland and Zimbabwe. These players showcase themselves and were snatched up by the CPL, arguably the only franchise in the world that they are given a chance to be a part of this type of excitement.
Young Rashid Khan was drafted over to the Guyana Amazon Warriors for the 2017 edition while Mohammed Nabi created history as the first Afgan player to be purchased as he will make his debut for the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
Timil Patel was also taken by the St. Lucia Stars and Akeem makes his way to the Barbados Tridents.
Not surprisingly, the affiliate players have all expressed surprise in being purchased by the respective franchises.
While these affiliate nations may not seem to be what selectors look for in the other leagues, the CPL has provided hope for them. In turn these players are providing hope for other players from countries who are less recognized in the cricketing realm.
In the 2017 draft, we saw a total of 278 players heading into the action, the most by any season to date.
In the mix with the 278 players we saw nine players coming from affiliate nations joining the bunch including Zishawn Querishi (USA), Sufyan Mehmood (Oman), Rizwan Cheema and Ruvindu Gunasekera (Canada), Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai and Najibullah Zadran (Afganistan).
On the other hand, CPL is creating an opportunity for players who are often sidelined from the action of the other tournaments, yet come to the CPL and star in some charismatic victories and cameos.
We see the international attraction of CPL drawing players who have become like family in the Caribbean culture; consequently there were 48 players from Pakistan, four from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, 19 from Sri Lanka, 16 from South Africa and 17 from New Zealand, all in the CPL draft.
Based on the exposure these talents have in the CPL it can only better the sport in their developing countries as the players are afforded the opportunity to rub shoulders and train with the likes of some high caliber players including Chris Gayle, Keiron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Martin Guptil, AB de Villiers, all players who have mastered their trade.
Making an early prediction, should these players be given the chance to take to the field come August-September, they will be taking the chance with both hands and adding to the pomp and flair that the biggest party in sport has become world renowned for over its five year life.
As we look to the future, the number of small nation players will definitely be on the rise as more and more players look to exploit the benefits of having the CPL as a training ground and CPL looks to continue to extend the Caribbean culture of accepting, creating opportunity and fostering development of each other.