West Indies superstars Chris Gayle, and Evin Lewis are set to headline the inaugural Global T20 Canada after they were snapped up by Vancouver Knights in Sunday’s players draft.
The left-handed Gayle, the world’s leading batsman in the game’s shortest form, was a first-round pick for the franchise.
He is the only player with over 10 000 runs and has struck 21 centuries in the format — the last coming in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League.
All-rounder Russell, meanwhile, one of the most sought-after T20 players, was picked up in the second round. The Jamaican is an explosive lower order batsman, an effective fast bowler and a dynamic fielder.
The left-handed Lewis, relatively new to international cricket, was claimed in the third round. Though not as experienced as Gayle and Russell, he has already made his presence felt with his power hitting at the top of the order as one of only four players with a brace of T20 International hundreds.
Knights also selected West Indies T20 wicketkeeper-batsman Chadwick Walton, left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and talented Bermudian all-rounder Kamau Leverock.
Toronto Nationals will also boast a star-studded line-up with two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, Darren Sammy, among those chosen at the draft.
The well-travelled all-rounder was the first round pick with big-hitting Kieron Pollard picked up in the third round and seamer Kesrick Williams selected in the ninth round.
Opener Johnson Charles, now on the fringes of the Windies side, was an eighth-round pick. Former Australia skipper, Steve Smith, will feature for the franchise after being selected in the second round.
Winnipeg Hawks, meanwhile, will have the Bravo brothers, Dwayne and Darren, in their ranks for the campaign. Dwayne, with 427 wickets in T20s, was selected in the first round while his younger brother was a fifth-round choice.
Dwayne is coming off a successful season in the IPL where he helped Chennai Super Kings to the title while, who has not played for West Indies in nearly two years following a squabble with Cricket West Indies, is an elegant left-hander who is relatively new to the global domestic leagues.
Fellow Trinidad and West Indies players Lendl Simmons and Rayad Emrit, along with former Windies speedster Fidel Edwards, are also in the line-up.
Star West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine will headline the Montreal Tigers squad after being selected in the first round.
The 30-year-old has taken 334 T20 wickets and remains one of the most prized assets in the shortest format.
Fellow Trinidadian Denesh Ramdin, who has made a recent return to Windies colours in the T20 side, was claimed in the fifth round.
Overall, 80 players were chosen over 16 rounds by the five Canadian franchise teams. They hail from 19 different countries and were selected from a pool of over 1,500 cricketers that registered from more than 40 countries around the world.
Five of cricket’s luminaries – Phil Simmons (Toronto Nationals), Donovan Miller (Vancouver Knights), Mohammad Akram (Edmonton Royals), Tom Moody (Montreal Tigers) and Waqar Younis, (Winnipeg Hawks), will coach the teams. Each team selected 16 players with four roster spots designated for Canadians, in keeping with Global T20 Canada’s mandate to advance the development of cricket in Canada.
The Global T20 Canada season will run from June 28 to July 15 and feature six teams. Five squads were chosen at Sunday’s draft while the sixth — an All-Stars side comprising Caribbean players exclusively — will be announced shortly.
Canadians Drafted in Global T20 Canada
Nikhil Dutta – Toronto Nationals
Ruvindu Gunasekera – Vancouver Knights
Hamza Tariq – Winnipeg Hawks
Junaid Siddiqui – Winnipeg Hawks
Srimantha Wijeyeratne – Vancouver Knights
Farhan Malik – Toronto Nationals
Cecil Pervez – Montreal Tigers
Ammar Khalid – Edmonton Royals
Nitish Kumar – Toronto Nationals
Rizwan Cheema – Winnipeg Hawks
Satsimranjit Dhindsa – Edmonton Royals
Dilon Heyliger – Montreal Tigers
Salman Nazar – Vancouver Knights
Hiral Patel – Winnipeg Hawks
Simon Pervez – Edmonton Royals
Nicholas Kirton – Montreal Tigers
Jeremy Gordon – Vancouver Knights
Abraash Khan – Edmonton Royals
Rayyankhan Pathan – Montreal Tigers
Muhammad Umair Ghani – Toronto Nationals
Saad Zafar – Vancouver Knights