In a move set to dishearten Associate cricket fans in the region, Caribbean Premier League (CPL) organisers have proposed jettisoning the sole ICC Americas player slot per franchise, amongst other amendments to the popular T20 competition. The changes were outlined in an email from CPL organisers to player agents, the details of which were seen by Emerging Cricket.
Until now, CPL have been the only Full Member T20 franchise competition in the world to offer dedicated playing opportunities for Associate players. So if adopted officially, the proposal will be a massive setback to cricketers from Bermuda, Canada and USA, who have played for CPL franchises in previous years courtesy of the pathway, helping them gain valuable exposure to top level T20 cricket.
It is also a blow to the burgeoning partnership between Cricket West Indies (CWI) and USA Cricket (USAC), who have pledged to work together and develop cricket in the region. Just two months ago, ICC had awarded the hosting rights for the 2024 T20 Men’s World Cup to USA and West Indies; a joint bid had been in preparation for two years.
Ali Khan – The ICC Americas Success Story
Previous beneficiaries of the ICC Americas slot include American cricketers like Ryan Persaud, Jasdeep Singh, Shayan Jahangir and Steven Taylor, the Canadian trio of Nikhil Dutta, Nitish Kumar and Saad Bin Zafar as well as Christian Burgess from Bermuda. However, the most famous and obvious success story is that of star American pacer Ali Khan.
The 31 year old speedster first got a run with Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2016 season, playing a solitary game and dismissing Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakarra with his inaugural delivery. Khan’s breakthrough season finally occurred with the switch to Trinbago Knight Riders in 2018. Since then, he has featured consistently for the franchise, winning the CPL Trophy twice and regularly topping the wicket charts.
Khan’s CPL successes were instrumental in him landing further T20 franchise stints globally such as in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL). In 2020, he even signed on for Kolkata Knight Riders in the India Premier League (IPL), before an untimely injury cruelly curtailed his campaign before he could play a game.
Therefore, scrapping of the ICC Americas slot will close the door of opportunity for many Associate cricketers in the region, who would now have to compete with seasoned Full Member players for the five Overseas slots per franchise.
Ratings wise, CPL has been a tremendous success (both in domestic and overseas markets) and is expected to turn a profit in the coming years. Viewing numbers for the inaugural tournament numbered 36 million in 2013. Since then, those numbers have exploded and in 2020 alone, the total viewership hit 523.5 million, an almost fifteenfold increase since 2013.
There have also been a lot of talks about the possible expansion of CPL to incorporate new franchises in New York or Toronto. However, there are numerous logistical hurdles to overcome with such a venture and CPL’s initial experiments with the USA market were a major flop, with games staged in Florida generating abysmal crowd numbers.
It remains to be seen what effect this move will have on the relationships between CWI and other Associate boards in the region and whether it effectively signals the end of CPL playing opportunities for ICC Americas players, with the possible exception of Ali Khan.
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