LONDON, England (CMC) — Barbados Tridents embarked on an overhaul, while St Lucia Stars strengthened considerably for the 2018 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) season, after both franchises acquired key players in the draft held here yesterday.
The 2014 champions, Tridents, made two key changes to their line-up by allowing the long-serving duo of Kieron Pollard and Shoaib Malik to depart for other franchises, while acquiring New Zealander Martin Guptill as their first-round pick and also going for the highly-rated Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan in the second round as their marquee player.
Both players have been fixtures for Tridents, with Pollard having captained the side from the inception of the five-year-old league.
Pollard scored 264 runs last season at an average of 33 with three half-centuries, while Shoaib managed 121 runs from five matches in a campaign cut short by national duty.
But with Tridents failing to make the play-offs last year, the franchise have chosen to rebuild with Trinidadian Pollard off to St Lucia Stars and Pakistani Shoaib heading to Guyana Amazon Warriors.
A plethora of Barbadian players have been instead drafted, headed by Dwayne Smith who was a fourth-round pick, and including West Indies Test and One-Day captain Jason Holder.
Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Raymon Reifer and Ashley Nurse, along with rookie pacers Chemar Holder and Dominic Drakes, all set to feature before their home crowd at Kensington Oval.
Tridents will also have the services of South African batting star Hashim Amla — a third-round pick — along with the Pakistani duo of Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz.
Stars, meanwhile, without a title in the competition to date, picked up West Indies star Lendl Simmons in the first round and also went for Pollard in the second round and the in-demand Australian D'Arcy Short in the third round.
They retained successful former West Indies Twenty20 Captain Darren Sammy, while landing Sri Lankan Niroshan Dickwella and West Indies A all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall.
The acquisitions are expected to bolster a side which has struggled since the inception of the competition and had a dreadful last season when they failed to record a single win in 10 outings.
Meanwhile, West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell made his return to Jamaica Tallawahs following his year-long ban from international cricket while he served an anti-doping whereabouts ban.
He was the first-round pick for the Tallawahs, who lost talisman Chris Gayle to St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at the start of last season, and his recent form in the Regional Super50 served notice that his qualities had diminished little.
Russell will be joined by South African batsman David Miller, veteran Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi who was picked up in the second round as their marquee player, while New Zealand batting star Ross Taylor was added in the fourth round to further strengthen the two-time champions.
Reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders and losing finalists Patriots have retained the core of their side while Amazon Warriors' main pickup was Shoaib.
A record 227 overseas players and 121 West Indies players were up for auction staged at the Gfinity eSports Arena.
The new CPL season bowls off August 8.