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By Neto Baptiste

West Indies and Antiguan off-break spin-bowler, Rahkeem Cornwall, is amongst eight players retained by the St Lucia Zouks for this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) scheduled to start August 19.

Cornwall, who has claimed 13 wickets in two Tests for the senior regional men’s squad, is joined by team captain Darren Sammy, veteran Chris Gayle, opener Andre Fletcher, Kesrick Wiliams, pace bowler Obed McKoy, Kavem Hodge and emerging player Kimani Melius, who captained the West Indies U19 team to the ICC World Cup.

In 2019, a 30-ball 75 from Cornwall powered St Lucia Zouks to their first victory in the CPL as they beat Jamaica Tallawahs by five wickets at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Cornwall’s blitz and fellow opener Andre Fletcher’s unbeaten 47 did bulk of the work as Zouks chased down the 171-run target in just 16.4 overs. Glenn Phillips (58) and Rovman Powell (44 off 22) had starred with the bat for Tallawahs.

Meanwhile, Sammy believes Gayle will be focussed and motivated for the new season and spoke highly of the all-time leading run-scorer in the T20 format and the other players retained by the franchise.

“I don’t have to tell you about Chris Gayle. He is the most successful T20 batsman in the world and I’m happy to be playing with him. I think he will be focused and motivated for the season,” Sammy said.

“Andre Fletcher has been with us since the inception of the league. He carries the true spirit of St Lucia Zouks, and he is a great entertainer on the field.”

He was also pleased that Williams and Cornwall would remain with the franchise for another season.

“Kesrick Williams is one of the top T20 bowlers over the last few years in International cricket. Rahkeem Cornwall really bosses the power-play overs and him partnering up with Chris Gayle is going to be something exciting to watch.

“I’m excited about Kimani Melius because he is from St Lucia. He is one of the hardest working youngsters I’ve ever seen. With the experience of Chris Gayle and Andre Fletcher, he could really benefit from this CPL exposure.

“Obed McCoy is a talented left-arm fast bowler out of St. Vincent. He is a very skilful bowler, can’t wait to see him play a full season for the St Lucia Zouks.

Kavem Hodge is another talented all-rounder we have. He works really hard on his game; he had a pretty good first-class season as well.”

Meanwhile, new coach Andy Flower said he is eager to start working with both Gayle and Sammy.

“I’m really looking forward to having two Caribbean legends in our dressing room; Daren Sammy for his outstanding leadership and Chris Gayle for his experience and explosive stroke play,” Flower said. “They will be central to our chances of doing well in the tournament. Kesrick Williams and Obed McCoy are going to be the mainstays of our seam attack, both operating in very different ways but both extremely effective in this form of the game.

“I am very excited that we have the youth and potential of the West Indies U19 World Cup captain Kimani Melius with us. A St Lucia native, it is brilliant to have him on board and looking forward to seeing how he progresses when he gets his chance.”

The CPL is scheduled to take place between August 19 and September 26.

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