CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC):New Zealand power-hitter Brendon McCullum and Sri Lankan stroke-maker Kumar Sangakkara are among five international stars confirmed for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) draft set for February 11 in Barbados.They will be joined by South African Faf du Plessis, New Zealander Martin Guptill and Australian Shane Watson, all of whom represent the inaugural inclusion of marquee international players for this year’s tournament, which bowls off in June.CPL organisers are expected to announce the final marquee player closer to the draft.Australian Tom Moody, CPL’s director of international cricket, said the arrival of such quality players would bring the Caribbean tournament on par with other well established global T20 competitions.”With the confirmation of these marquee players, the CPL is now truly established as one of the leading T20 leagues and compares favourably with the likes of the IPL and Big Bash League,” Moody said.”We are entering into a fascinating year of T20 cricket, with a number of players in this year’s draft set to feature for their countries in the forthcoming ICC World T20 in India, as well as in other leading domestic T20 competitions.”With the West Indies currently sitting atop the World T20 team rankings, we believe that the top quality signings of iconic and hugely decorated marquee players demonstrate CPL’s intentions to captivate the attention of both the West Indies public and cricket followers globally.”TWO CENTURIESKnown for his all-out attacking style at the top of the order, McCullum is likely to attract the most attention. The former Black Caps captain was the first player to reach 1,000 runs in T20 Internationals and the only one to have scored two centuries in T20 Internationals.He has played 99 Tests and 256 one-day internationals and is set to retire in February after playing his final two Tests against the touring Australians.Sangakkara, meanwhile, one of the most sought after players on the T20 circuit, has featured in the CPL before along with Guptill, while all-rounder Watson will be turning out in the Caribbean tournament for the first time.The six marquee players will enter the draft and will each be assigned to one of the six franchises – Barbados Pride, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, St Lucia Zouks and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel.
Coach Neil Harrison’s confidence was clear: “We are ready. We were born ready.”That’s the message he is sending as it relates to his Kingston College (KC) charges’ readiness for the fast-approaching ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.Harrison was speaking at an entertaining Journey to Champs stop in which telecommunications and cable company FLOW boosted KC’s coffers with $200,000 towards their sports development and sports programme at the institution’s Elleston Road Campus, which houses grades seven to nine, yesterday.Over the past three weeks, FLOW has stopped by three schools – Jamaica College, Hydel, and now, KC.The next stops for the FLOW Champs tour are Girls’ champions’, Edwin Allen High, next Tuesday, and Boys’ champions, Calabar, on March 11.The championships’ title sponsor, GraceKennedy, was also on hand to distribute gift bags, refreshment, prizes and nutritional advice to the students.The exciting day included entertainer Bugle releasing a number of hits from his catalogue. There were entertaining dancing battles and lyrical battles between students and FLOW dancers, while former KC students Elli the Viner and Prince Pine entertained and chanted the school’s motto to much jubilation.FLOW’s Whitney Fennell, who is in charge of retail sales, who himself is a Fortis old boy, rallied his former school ahead of Champs.”FLOW believes that the future of this country rests with young people, and we will all be supporting our youngsters, so we will always power our footballers and our athletes in whatever sport they choose,” Fennell outlined.Meanwhile, dean of discipline of the North Street campus Ainsworth Walker jolted the crowd with: “KC, KC, KC … Fortis forever!””I think we are prepared to win Champs, barring injuries. We only have one serious injury in the Class One with Chadwick Brown, and hopefully, he will recover,” Walker told The Gleaner in an interview.”We stand a great chance; they (athletes) just need to be consistent in their training and be advised about their physical and mental state, and once they find a twitch, they should take it serious,” he continued.Ironically, GraceKennedy’s digital media officer, Dwayne Extol, who helped to dethrone KC of the championships at Wolmer’s Boys in 2010, said: “Calabar by far looks impressive all season, JC are dark horses, as they are well-rounded and look a strong unit this year,” Extol pointed out.
Tempers flared in Blacksmiths Lane, Seaforth just yards away from the polling station, as the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson, who is vying for another term as the Member of Parliament (MP) of Western St Thomas, addressed a small group of community members. Robertson, who was being accused of being absent in the constituency, was assuring the people of the work that he had put in over the years. “I have been a father to this lane for almost 30 years, long before I was elected as MP,” he said. Robertson’s proclamation was met with shouts and nods of agreement from a few of the people who had gathered. However, one man, who was holding a cup of what appeared to contain alcohol, approached the candidate with slurs contrary to what he had proclaimed. Another resident of the community exclaimed that the man was drunk and asked him to move away. The accusing man refused, which escalated to a brief fist fight. Robertson ensured that the dispute was settled before leaving the location.
KOLKATA, India (CMC):West Indies arrived here early yesterday from Dubai to begin their final preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup, which is set to bowl off here today with qualifying matches.The 2012 champions spent the last two weeks in a preparation camp in United Arab Emirates (UAE), where they also played four unofficial T20 warm-up games – two against Zimbabwe in Sharjah and two versus English County Warwickshire in Dubai. They won all four fixtures.The Caribbean side play their two official warm-up matches at Eden Gardens, taking on hosts and powerhouses India on Thursday and Australia on Sunday.Bravo in New DelhiMedia reports here said star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was not with the team at the hotel yesterday, having flown to New Delhi following his arrival from Dubai.However, a team official said the veteran T20 specialist would return in time for the Windies fixtures.”He has some personal commitments in New Delhi. He will return in time,” media reports quoted an unnamed team official as saying.West Indies are also awaiting a replacement for opener Lendl Simmons, who was forced to opt out of the squad last week after failing to recover from a back injury. The Trinidadian played no part in the camp in UAE.In recent weeks, West Indies have been hit by a number of high profile withdrawals from the squad. Kieron Pollard pulled out with injury, off-spinner Sunil Narine chose to complete the rehabilitation of his bowling action, while left-handed batsman Darren Bravo opted to represent Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the ongoing Regional four-day championship.West Indies have been installed in Group A of the T20 World Cup and will play alongside South Africa, Sri Lanka and England.The winner of Group B in the qualifying tournament beginning today will join West Indies in Group One.