First Caribbean Premier League to be held in July-August 2013

Sandy Lane Country Club (St. James, Barbados, West Indies), Feb.13 (ANI): The first ever Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will be held in July and August this year.

The month-long tournament will be held from July 29 to August 26. During this period, 90 cricketers will match their skills with both bat and ball in 32 matches, and the tournament will be seen by audiences world-wide.

The CPL is looking to have six franchise countries with six franchise teams. The six countries with whom they are negotiating with are-Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The CPL has chosen the top six players in the region based on their stats and performances, and contracted each of them to be the franchise players for one of the six teams, ensuring that each team is bolstered by a talented, top West Indian player. The contracted franchise players are-Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Sunil Narine.

Ajmal Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), revealed further details about the league, including regional and international franchise player information, event dates, potential franchise countries, plans for player development in the region, tournament logo and the terms of agreement between the League and the WICB, all of which can be found on newly launched website:

Khan, Founder and Chairman of Verus International, was joined by WICB President Dr. Julian Hunte, Michael Muirhead, WICB CEO, Dirk Hall, Managing Director of Verus International and Jamie Stewart, CEO of Commune at the media event.

"The CPL will showcase the beauty and talent of the Caribbean to the world. The best cricketers that the West Indies has to offer playing alongside their international counterparts, coupled with celebrity appeal from Hollywood, Bollywood and local and international music talent with the carnival atmosphere for which the Caribbean is world-renowned and indeed envied, is sure

to draw the attention of current and new cricket fans across the globe," said Khan.

He added: "We're going to make sure that all eyes are on the shores of the Caribbean in July and August."

Khan also discussed the massive economic development benefits for the region.

"I have witnessed first-hand the resurgence and revitalisation of communities and even countries when new businesses and industries are introduced into their economies, particularly those with such global reach. I believe that the Caribbean Premier League will have a tremendous economic impact, not only for the six franchise countries but also for the entire region," Khan said.

He added: "Benefits include international and regional travel to and around the Caribbean, hospitality, entertainment, transportation and shopping. There will be significant advertising and marketing revenue as we plan to make the Caribbean Premier League the biggest party on the planet; which will result in a significant boost in local employment opportunities surrounding the events."

The audience, which included members of the Caribbean media, Ministers of Governments from around the

region, regional cricket board representatives and West Indies cricket legends such as Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Reverend Wes Hall, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd and Joel Garner, also heard about the heightened international exposure from which the Caribbean will benefit as a result of the tournament.

The 2014 and 2015 tournaments will take place from July 5 to August 10 and June 21 to July 26 respectively.

Dirk Hall also told attendees that the CPL is in negotiations with six international players who will also be franchise players for each of the six countries.

"We will definitely have non-West Indian players playing in the League, but there will be restrictions," explained Hall.

He said: "Only four non-West Indian players can be contracted for each team, and the reason for this is our desire to maximise the development opportunities for as many West Indian players as possible."

Dr. Julian Hunte, President of the WICB, spoke positively about the future of West Indies Cricket in light of the Board's agreement with the CPL, calling the initiative more than just a tournament but another avenue for advancing the game through player development.

"The WICB is particularly pleased about the opportunities the CPL will provide to players, but is equally elated with the agreement which will allow for regional retainer contracts for a broad pool of players. These contracts will be funded by the CPL to the tune of US$360,000 annually. This significant investment will truly allowfor cricketers in the Caribbean to pursue their profession as professionals," Dr. Hunte said.

"The CPL will bring direct and indirect economic and social benefits to every country in which it is involved and in neighbouring countries. It will augment, in a major way our already world renowned tourism product. The benefits will extend even further. The CPL will transform the landscape of the region and take it into a new dimension," Dr. Hunte added.

The tournament will ensure regional players will benefit when they outlined the makeup of the six franchise teams, explaining that each team would have 15 players, at least six of whom must be local players from that franchise country. In addition, at least four of the players must be under the age of 23.

The remainder of the team must consist of regional and/or local players and a maximum of four international players. In the case of St. Lucia, locals are deemed to be any players from the Windward Islands, and cricketers from any of the Leeward Islands can be considered local players for Antigua.

The CPL is invested in the West Indies for the long term, evidenced by the fact that the agreement between the CPL and the WICB has been forged for a minimum of 20 years.

The CPL intends to build a solid partnership with the WICB and see the tournament achieve its goal of further developing and strengthening West Indies cricket by expanding the global fan base as well as the number of West Indian cricketers under regional retainer contracts, and showcasing the talent and beauty of the Caribbean.

Verus International is a merchant bank based in Barbados and New York. Founded by President and Chairman, Ajmal Khan, Verus invests its capital directly into companies and provides merchant banking and advisory services for a select group of strategic partners.

The Verus team has a global focus on proprietary investment opportunities with resources, expertise and relationships that can be leveraged to create significant value for its portfolio companies and strategic partners. The company also manages the private family office for the Khan family. (ANI)