T20-Million dollar Pro League set for region next year

ST JOHN’S, Antigua,  CMC – A multi-million dollar Twenty20 professional league will take flight in the Caribbean late next year after the West Indies Cricket Board announced yesterday it had signed an agreement with Barbados-based merchant bank Verus International to stage the lucrative venture.

The tournament, which is likely to replace the current Caribbean Twenty20, will be franchise- oriented along the lines of the Indian Premier League, and is expected to be a huge financial boon for West Indies players.

“A significant number of players at the regional level will benefit through greater financial stability both from playing in the league and from year-round retainer contracts while having an international platform on which to showcase their skills and talent,” WICB president Julian Hunte said.

“Most importantly is that the league will bring a huge financial injection into the Caribbean and create significant job opportunities across the region in a wide cross-section of sectors.”

The T20 league is expected to significantly alter the Caribbean cricketing landscape as for the first time, professional franchises will replace traditional territorial rivalry.

According to the WICB, six privately owned Caribbean city-based teams will be involved in the venture, with players drawn from across the region and internationally. The tournament will be beamed across Caribbean and worldwide.

Ajmal Khan, chairman and CEO of Verus International, said West Indies’ recent triumph in the World T20 in Sri Lanka was a sign of the strength of the regional game.

“We are absolutely delighted to partner with the WICB to launch the Twenty20 league and contribute to the historic tradition and success of West Indian cricket,” Khan said.

“We believe that the recently won ICC World Twenty20 is a testament to the quality and excitement of West Indies cricket. We intend to utilize the Twenty20 league to further develop and strengthen West Indies cricket by expanding the global fan base as well as the number of West Indian cricketers under regional retainer contracts.

“We look forward to showcasing the talent and beauty of the Caribbean.”

The deal, negotiated by former CEO Ernest Hilaire, will also see the WICB receiving annual funding to expand the current number of retainer contracts for players.

News of the new league comes as the region gears up for the CT20 set to run from January 6-20 in Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia.

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