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.
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.