On Wednesday the eyes of many T20 cricket fans will be on their phones and computer screens as the CPL conducts the draft for its seventh edition, hosted at London’s Gfinity eSports Arena.
In the CPL’s biggest draft list ever it has 537 names, 179 of whom are West Indians. This leaves 358 players to battle it out for for the 30 overseas spots on offer. In addition, there are six reserved spots for ICC Americas players – one in each squad.
There are 82, yes, 82 names from Pakistan. South Africa (48), England (41), Afghanistan (35) and Sri Lanka (34) round out the top five, and despite being part of a field of 19, this quintet makes up two thirds of the field by numbers.
However, we also get to see the biggest-ever line up of Associate nominees, nine countries supply a total of 43 to the draft; including 25 ICC Americas players.
Here are my top ten picks across the AM overseas players on the list:
1 Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal)
(Takes a deep breath). Since being discovered more-or-less by accident during Pubudu Dassanayake’s chance travels to Nepal’s remote Chitwan Province for left arm spinner Basant Regmi’s wedding, then scouted for the Kowloon Cantons by HK ‘keeper Scott McKechnie (while touring Nepal with the MCC), to being a hattrick star in the 2016 U19 World Cup, and then playing first grade in Sydney with Michael Clarke’s team after playing together in the HK T20 Blitz for the Cantons, everything Sandeep has touched has turned to gold in recent years.
This is especially true in respect of his time in the Nepal men’s team – who achieved their first ever ODI-status and secured a crucial spot in the ICC CWC League 2 (mainly) on the back of his bowling at WCL2 2018 and CWCQ 2018.
Since 2016 he has played in more leagues than any other player I can locate, and in at least ten different ICC member nations’ events, including the T10 league in UAE.
Once the Euro Slam is done this year (and the ECB confirms their visa rule change for the Hundred in 2020) and event clashes notwithstanding – this total will be added to again, no doubt.
2 Ali Khan (ICC Americas)
Was joint-third wicket taker for Trinbago in their third title win and will surely be retained by the franchise before Wednesday’s draft. Bowled what was close to the ball of the event to leading run scorer Anshuman Rath in WCL2. (Below).
3 George Munsey (Scotland)
Henry George Munsey has the sixth highest T20I strike rate rate for any player to have scored more that 500 runs. The golfer-turned-cricketer has developed his game beyond his damaging reverse sweeps and can now score to all parts of the field.
The left-hander’s maiden ODI half-century came during the Scots’ famous victory over England at The Grange last June.
In his career of 26 T20Is he has hit 80 fours and 16 sixes. Half of those matches have been played since the beginning of 2017 during which he has struck 45 of his boundaries and an astonishing 14 sixes, indicating just how far his power hitting has improved.
4 Babar Hayat (Hong Kong)
His 102 runs at 20.4 in the WCL2 round games was well below expectations and he never seemed comfortable at number 5, despite the logical reasons for him being there.
Quizzically it was his striking down the order in Canada when he came in behind a swathe of full member stars – with and against many Caribbean players – during the inaugural Global T20 that may bode well for his chances in this draft.
He smashed 146 runs at a strike rate of almost 176 on the slow Maple Leaf CC pitch – and finished up averaging 36.5 across Vancouver Knights’ victorious tournament.
5 Davy Jacobs (ICC Americas)
Despite having what could be described as an extremely flattering Wikipedia page describing him as a “natural born leader” those who witnessed his efforts leading Canada in WCL2 last month saw more than just a glimpse of the talent that saw him play for the Mumbai Indian in the 2011 IPL.
His keeping is still slick, he held the middle order together with the bat, and his leadership skills – most evident in the final round game where USA were soundly beaten, but Canada just missed out on a top four spot – will be an asset to any CPL squad.
6 Calum Macleod (Scotland)
If this were an ODI league, Calum Macleod would be in my top three. It’s only that his T20I strike rate of just over 108 that’s just. not. enough to run him up the flagpole as high as Munsey or Hayat.
Since January 2017 he has averaged 43 at 115 in T20Is with a lot of not outs in there, including two half-centuries. So, whilst I can’t wait to see how he unfurls for one of the Scottish Slam sides, I can’t see a CPL franchise picking him up. Yet.
7 Mohammad Naveed (UAE)
Up there with Ali Kahn vying for the quickest of the Associate bowlers, Naveed also has a deadly yorker. His appearances in the Global T20 and Afghanistan Premier Leagues in 2018 didn’t set the house on fire but franchise owners should be well aware of his abilities.
8 Nizakat Khan (Hong Kong)
After nearly getting to a century during Hong Kong’s chase where they nearly beat India – Nizakat was sorely missed by Hong Kong at WCL2.
He remained at his ill father’s bedside rather than joining the Hong Kong team in Namibia. He nearly made it to Windhoek – even after some to-and-fro and initially agreeing to come to Namibia, he decided against it.
Although his innings against India will remain fresh in the memories for many, his misfiring in Canada which saw him dropped from Steve Smith’s Toronto Nationals team after a few matches may work against him.
9 Anshy Rath (Hong Kong)
WCL2: 280 @ 58. ODI average of 58… similar to Macleod; Rath’s T20I figures won’t be enough to see him considered but anyone who has seen him bat knows he is a special talent, and the cricketing world is poorer for the prospect of seeing much less of him since Hong Kong’s demotion to the Challenge Leagues.
I’m hoping he’ll get picked up in the Slam’s draft – but with only one spot reserved for Associates, this may be tough. Hopefully his close relationship with City Kai Tak opening partner Kyle Coetzer, there may be like at the end of the tunnel…
….which segue-ways nicely to my thoughts here on the potential opportunities at St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, now in the hands of Hong Kong’s City Sports – also owners of City Kai Tak. Don’t be surprised if you see a surprise pick (or two) from SKN!
10 Rohan Mustafa (UAE)
A top order attacking left handed batter, he also bowls more-than handy off spin. His fielding prowess in the the ring completes his all-round talent and has excelled in his time as overseas player in Nepalese leagues. May be a bridge to far for him to be selected here but am hoping we’ll see good things from him in future events and the T20 World Cup qualifier hosted in UAE later this year.
I really enjoyed watching the left arm spin of Saad bin Zafar at WCL2, and considering his match-winning unbeaten knock of 79 from 48 deliveries in the GT20 final I think he will be one of the six Americas players picked up. Kamau Leverock has also shown good talent in his time for his native Bermuuda and in the UK. Hayden Walsh Jnr was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has represented Windward Islands in CWI’s domestic setup. I’m tipping the middle order, leg spinning all rounder to snare a squad spot, too. Dipendra Airee from Nepal is a great young talent and will only get better with the more frequent opportunities Nepal’s place in CWC League 2 will give.
Beyond players from recent Full Members Ireland and a large contingent of Afghan representatives, the 43 Associate names come from Canada, USA (12 each), Hong Kong (5), Bermuda, Nepal, Scotland, UAE (3 each), Kenya (2). Bermuda, Oman (1 each).
Full list of Associate players in 2019 CPLT20 Draft:
Bermuda: Kamau Leverock
Canada: Rizwan Cheema, Nikhil Dutta, Jeremy Gordon, Davy Jacobs, Faisal Jamkhandi, Abraash Khan, Rayyan Pathan, Junaid Siddiqui, Hamza Tariq, Rodrigo Thomas, Srimantha Wijeyeratne & Saad bin Zafar
Hong Kong: Babar Hayat, Raag Kapur, Nizakat Khan, Ehsan Khan & Anshuman Rath
Kenya: Irfan Ali Karim & Gagandeep Singh
Nepal: Dipendra Singh Airee, Sompal Kami, Rohit Paudel & Sandeep Lamichhane
Oman: Sufyaan Mehmood
Scotland: Calum MacLeod, George Munsey & Safyaan Sharif
UAE: Rohan Mustafa, Mohammad Naveed & Zahoor Khan
USA: Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Ibrahim Khaleel, Ali Khan, Jaskaran Malhotra, Nisard Patel, Sagar Patel, Kyle Phillip, Shawm Qureshi, Roy Silva, Sunny Sohal & Hayden Walsh Jr.
(Players linked to 2018 CPL teams in italics)
The official announcement can be found here. Draft starts at 3pm GMT, 22 May. The CPL will run 21 August – 27 September.
Other T20 events around that period that could impact player availability are the new Euro T20 Slam (30 Aug -22 Sep) and the Vitality Blast (18 Jul – 21 Sep).