Holding says new T20 tournament can spur development

The cash-rich CPL is set to bowl off in July, with franchises based in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday May 7, 2013 – Legendary fast bowler Michael Holding believes the Caribbean Premier League represents an excellent opportunity for the development of professional cricket in the region.

The 59-year-old, known for his strident criticism of the shortest form of the game, said the CPL was special as it had the potential to birth a new generation of professional cricketers in the Caribbean. He has signed on as the ambassador for the development programme.

“I think cricket has lost a lot of young people in the Caribbean who are thinking ‘why bother with cricket because unless you are playing for the West Indies then there is nothing there for you,’” said the former paceman who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests.

“The advent of the CPL means West Indian youngsters can now think to themselves ‘hey, I can make a reasonably good living from playing cricket.’ Now there is something here in the Caribbean they can play in, they can make a reasonable living and they can go on and play cricket again.”

The cash-rich CPL is set to bowl off in July, with franchises based in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Each outfit is stipulated to have 11 of their 15 players qualified to play for the West Indies, with four required to be under the age of 23.

Holding said it was clear the CPL’s objectives would result in new international players being identified and properly developed, even for the longer forms of the game.

“The CPL is looking at a development programme which they will start rolling out in January 2014, I understand,” said Holding, now an internationally renowned broadcaster.

“They will have about 60 young cricketers, 10 from each of the six franchise regions, who they will put on contract and create programmes to improve their cricket. That is what I am interested in.”

He continued: “It is not easy to start with Twenty20 cricket and go into Test cricket and David Warner (of Australia) is the only person who has come even close but if we can develop some young cricketers in the Caribbean, even if a lot of them are tempted to play Twenty20 cricket, then maybe we can still find one or two who are quite happy and even capable of playing Test cricket too.”

Superstar Chris Gayle headlines a list of West Indies stars that have been confirmed as franchise players, incuding Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels.

These will play alongside international franchise players like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Ross Taylor, Mohammad Hafeez, Herschelle Gibbs and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Holding said having players of this quality in the CPL augured well for the development of younger cricketers.

“If the youngsters rub shoulders with those guys they will certainly learn a lot about cricket, not just Twenty20 cricket but cricket in general,” he said.

“Youngsters will love to be able to be with those guys, be in the same squad with them, going to team meetings and listening to those people they will be playing with.”

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