USA, Canada players earn CPL contracts
USA wicketkeeper Steven Taylor and Canada offspinner Nikhil Dutta have been awarded full Caribbean Premier League contracts after successful tryouts with the Barbados Tridents and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots respectively. They two became the first Associate players from the Americas Region to become part of a CPL squad.
After participating in an ICC Americas squad camp last December in Barbados, Taylor and Dutta were two of six players shortlisted for a chance to compete in a trial with West Indies U-19 cricketers for a final roster spot in their nominated CPL franchise.
Taylor, 21, first rose to international prominence at age 18 in October 2012 when he was the only US player chosen as part of the International World XI captained by Sanath Jayasuriya in a series of T20 exhibition matches in Karachi as part of an effort to encourage international teams to resume touring Pakistan. He was the first US player to score a T20 century and was USA's leading scorer at the 2013 World T20 Qualifier in the UAE with 271 runs at an average of 38.71.
Tridents coach Robin Singh has worked with Taylor since 2011 when Singh was the USA U-19 coach first at a regional qualifier in Florida and then again at the U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland. Since then, Taylor and Singh have continued to forge a solid bond during Singh's stints as a coach for the USA senior team on a tournament by tournament basis at various ICC events.
Dutta, 20, was the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One tournament MVP when he helped Canada qualify for the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup in the UAE. He was Canada's leading wicket-taker at the recently concluded ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament in Indianapolis, taking 12 at an average of 9.41, giving strong indications that he would make the cut with the Patriots. Dutta is considered somewhat of a mystery spinner with a delivery style and repertoire similar to Sunil Narine.
Despite being given full contracts by their franchises, both Taylor and Dutta may have limited availability for the tournament after both were named last week to represent their countries at the ICC World T20 Qualifier in Ireland and Scotland. All teams are scheduled to arrive on July 3 for the tournament with USA and Canada's first official group matches taking place on July 10. The World T20 Qualifier final is on July 26 in Dublin, the same day as the CPL final in Trinidad.
Aside from the two Associate players, former West Indies U-19 captain Ramaal Lewis received a contract from Jamaica Tallawahs while reigning West Indies U-19 player of the year Shimron Hetmeyer signed on with the Guyana Amazon Warriors. The other two emerging talents to receive CPL contracts were Gidron Pope from the St Lucia Zouks and Mark Deyal for the Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna