Former Leeward Islands cricketer renews call for meaningful development within the sub-region

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By Neto Baptiste

Former West Indies and Leeward Islands player Kenneth Benjamin, has renewed calls for more investment in the development of players from within the sub-region.

His call comes amidst debate over what many believe to be a sparse number of players from the Leeward Islands being offered contracts to play in the region’s top T20 league, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

“If the Leeward Islands have the least amount of players overall as a territory in the CPL, then it simply means that our players are not good enough. So, what we need to do is to find ways to develop our players because at the end of the day, when these coaches look [for players] they want to win, too, because their jobs are on the line. So it is for us in the Leeward Islands to make sure that our product is as good as the others,” he said.

Four Antiguan players have been contracted to play in the 2021 CPL slated to bowl of on August 28 in St Kitts and Nevis.

Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph will join spinner Rahkeem Cornwall at the St Lucia Zouks, while wicket-keeper-batsman Devon Thomas will turn out for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, and spinner Hayden Walsh Jr remains with the Barbados Pride.

Benjamin said that apart from the four players already confirmed to play in the CPL, there may not be many others who have convinced franchises that they are ready to play at that level

“Apart from the Leeward islanders and you have Alzarri Joseph who is going to the Zouks along with Rahkeem Cornwall, there is Hayden Walsh Jr and Devon Thomas but who else in the Leeward Islands deserves a CPL contract? This is where we have to look at; they have to understand that this is not a development programme and people are paying people to perform,” the Antiguan said.

Last week, the Patriots revealed they had retained Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit, Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Joshua Da Silva and Dominic Drakes.

CPL organizers have revealed that the tournament will take place at a single venue in St Kitts. Warner Park will host all 33 matches across the six-team competition.

Last year’s event was held in Trinidad and Tobago amid the Covid-19 pandemic and staged at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy and Queen’s Park Oval.

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