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Chris Gayle has opted out of the 2020 CPL a day before the players’ draft is scheduled to take place on June 24. The tournament this year is scheduled to take place in Trinidad & Tobago from August 18 until September 10 subject to permission from the local government.

ESPNcricinfo understands Gayle communicated his decision on Monday to St Lucia Zouks, the franchise he was going to play for in this CPL, saying he would not be available to play due to personal reasons.

Gayle’s decision was confirmed by the Zouks franchise. It is understood that in his email Gayle pointed out that due to the lockdown, he has not been able to meet his family and his young child who are in St Kitts while he has been in Jamaica. Gayle said he needed a break and wanted to spend time with his young family.

Gayle signed up with Zouks in April after an acrimonious fallout with Jamaica Tallawahs, where he had returned in 2019 for a second stint. The Zouks would have been the third team Gayle would represent in the CPL after two stints with Tallawahs (2013-16 and 2019) and a two-year stay with St Kitts and Nevis (2017-18).

The Zouks franchise saw a change in ownership this February after it was bought by KPH Dream Cricket Private Limited, which also owns Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. The franchise also made changes to the coaching staff, appointing former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower as the head coach.

Gayle’s abrupt decision is understood to have disrupted Zouks’ plans for the players’ draft, which will be conducted virtually for the first time due to the travel restrictions imposed by countries to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Zouks signed up Gayle as one of the marquee players outside the draft in the US $130,000 – $160,000 price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.

It is not clear whether Gayle’s decision was influenced by the pay cut proposed by the CPL in the wake of the pandemic. In an update he sent recently to all stakeholders, the CPL operations manager Michael Hall said top-earning players would be asked to take a pay cut of up to 30 percent compared to the 2019 contract. In Gayle’s case, he would have received about $112,000 after the 30 percent proposed cut from the Zouks. (www.espncriccinfo.com)

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