While on one hand, the Caribbean Premier League serves as an annual gala for the fans to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars, on the other hand, it also provides an opportunity of incalculable value to youngsters to leave their mark and make people take notice of their talent and abilities. Over the course of the last three years, several West Indian superstars – namely Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford – have used the CPL as a launching pad for their embarking careers. The upcoming edition of the tournament also promises to showcase a vast majority of youngsters rich on talent, and thus we’ve compiled a list of five youngsters who could potentially break in this year’s CPL.
A tall and quick pacer from Guyana, Shepherd made his List A debut for his side against Leeward Islands in the 2015/16 and made an instant impact, ending up with figures of 10-2-37-3, walking away with the Man of the Match award. This made Guyana Amazon Warriors take note of his talent, and so, the pacer was handed a debut by them in 2018. Up against a formidable Trinbago Knight Riders team on his debut, Shepherd showed no signs of nerves as he ran through their batting line-up, famously castling Darren Bravo, beating him for pace. He ended with figures of 3/29, and ever since, he’s been a highly talked about prospect. With Oshan Thomas having already broken through in recent times, the 2019 edition of CPL might just be the perfect stage for Shepherd to reach the next level and trust us when we say he has all the talent in the world to make it happen.
A stylish left-hander who oozes elegance and class, Simmons caught the eye of the general public in the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, where he starred for his country, scoring 319 runs at an average of almost 80. Thanks to the sheer weight of runs he scored at the junior level, Simmons was handed his List A debut at just the age of 19. Despite having played only a handful of List A matches, the southpaw has notched up two fifties, repaying the faith shown by the management in him. Now, having been snapped up by Guyana Amazon Warriors, the youngster would be raring to go and leave people in awe of his stroke-making in the very first opportunity he gets. He for sure does not have the power of a Pooran or a Hetmyer, but his technique, temperament and the array of strokes will indeed please the eye of every single fan and will leave them wanting to see more of his batting.
A slow left-arm bowler with a high-arm action, Joshua Bishop has left heads turning with his control and consistency despite being only 19 years of age. Born in Barbados, Bishop was just 17 years of age when he made his List A debut for the West Indian U-19 side against Windward Islands. Just like Shepherd, he made an immediate impact, ending with figures of 2/34, accounting for the scalps of Darren Sammy and Sunil Amrbis. In 2019, Bishop was named as the Under-19 Player of the Year by Cricket West Indies, acknowledging his incredible consistency at the youth level. Now, the teenager will get a golden chance to compete with the best of the best after being snapped up by Barbados Tridents. Indeed, the Windies of late have struggled to field quality spinners in their side, but Bishop has the talent, ability and skill to make the vacant spinners position as his own.
Son of former West Indian pacer Vasbert Drakes, Dominic Drakes is an exciting all-rounder who can win matches single-handedly with both bat and ball. Like the names mentioned above, Drakes was also handed his debut at a very young age. The Barbadian bamboozled international cricketers Johnson Charles and Kirk Edwards on his very first outing, and his outrageous spell on his debut – 6-1-12-2 – caught the eye of many a superstar, who have since then said that he’s someone who is destined for greatness. He did make his CPL debut in 2018 but unfortunately, didn’t have the most fruitful of outings. Now, having been snapped up by St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, the young all-rounder will be looking to redeem himself and prove the world why he is rated so highly.
Another tall Barbadian pacer who is extremely quick, Chemar Holder has been rising up the ranks in West Indies cricket in no time. In fact, the 21-year-old pacer was very close to a Test call-up for the ongoing series against India, and in many ways, was unlucky to have missed out on it. Holder ended as the highest wicket-taker for the West Indian ‘A’ side in the recently-concluded series against India ‘A’, and his spell at Port of Spain where he claimed a 5-wicket haul – including rattling the likes of Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari – will arguably still be fresh on the minds of the Indians. Representing Barbados Tridents in the forthcoming edition of the CPL alongside his namesake and skipper Jason Holder, Chemar will now have an opportunity to showcase his brutal pace in front of the whole world against the very best, and if India ‘A’ is any evidence to go by, don’t be surprised if he ends up as the most talked-about name post the conclusion of the tournament.