Mohammad Nabi made more history on Friday when he became the first Afghanistan player to be picked in the 2017 CPL draft. The former captain was picked up by St Kitts and Nevis Patriots for USD 90,000 in the fourth round of the draft and was closely followed by team-mate Rashid Khan, who was taken in the sixth round for USD 60,000 by Guyana Amazon Warriors.
This follows an excellent couple of months for Afghanistan cricket in general. The same pair of Nabi and Rashid had been snapped up at the IPL auction in February by Sunrisers Hyderabad and beginning in December the team has been on a 10-match winning streak in T20Is - a world record. Mere hours before he was picked up, Rashid produced a spellbinding display against Ireland, picking up five wickets in nine balls to turn the game around in an eventual 17-run win.
The top pick at the draft was Lendl Simmons, the second-highest run-getter in the tournament's three-year history with a tally of 1238 from 39 matches. Also a two-time World T20 winner, he went to Jamaica Tallawahs for USD 160,000 having represented Patriots in 2016. Tallawahs, the defending champions, needed the muscle at the top of the order after they traded their captain Chris Gayle and top-scorer in all of CPL to the team that finished bottom last season, the Patriots. West Indies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite might also turn out for the Patriots provided he does not have any WICB commitments at the time.
Among the biggest gainers from the draft were West Indies wicketkeeper batsman Chadwick Walton. His USD 30,000 contract last year became a thing of the distant past after he was bought for over three times the price - USD 110,000 - by Amazon Warriors. Australia allrounder Ben Cutting also went for the same amount and is all set to play in his first CPL, for Patriots, who had also enlisted the services of South Africa's Chris Morris for USD 130,000 the day before the draft.
There were several notable players who went unsold as well. To name a few, Pakistan legspinner Yasir Shah, their Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who struck six successive sixes in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz on Thursday, England T20 specialist Tymal Mills, Corey Anderson, who at one time held the record for the fastest century in ODIs and Shaun Marsh, who plays for Perth Scorchers, three-time BBL champions.
Tallawahs invested in, among others, Mohammad Sami, who defended four runs off the last over in the recently concluded PSL to put Islamabad United into the play-offs, and Krishmar Santokie, the former West Indies left-arm quick known for his slingy action and accurate yorkers. They were the most active team in the draft, alongside the newly renamed St Lucia Stars, picking up seven players each.
Marlon Samuels may have dismantled Lasith Malinga in the 2012 World T20 final, but they will be playing together under the leadership of Darren Sammy for the Stars this CPL. They also purchased Pakistan wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal, who was the only centurion in the 2017 PSL, and the big-hitting offspinning allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall, who had previously represented the defunct Antigua Hawksbills.
The six franchises had chosen their marquee picks a day before the draft. Kane Williamson joined team-mates Martin Guptill (Amazon Warriors) and Brendon McCullum (Trinbago Knight Riders) as the only New Zealand players in the tournament. Williamson was recruited by Barbados Tridents, who also bulked up their fast bowling reserves by picking up Wahab Riaz, Wayne Parnell and Tino Best. Knight Riders, like their namesake in the IPL, showed a fondness for unusual spinners and bought the 46-year old Brad Hogg and the 18-year old Shadab Khan, whose googlies were rarely picked by the batsmen in the PSL.
A total of nine Associate players have been placed with teams in the CPL along with Rashid and Nabi. From the USA team, allrounder Timroy Allen was retained by Tallawahs after appearing in six matches during their 2016 title campaign. Fast bowler Ali Khan was retained by Amazon Warriors while batsman Steven Taylor was snapped up for USD 30,000 by Amazon Warriors after spending the last two seasons with Barbados Tridents. Legspinner Timil Patel was picked for the first time, by Stars, and wicketkeeper Akeem Dodson was taken by Tridents. Canada's Nikhil Dutta and Hamza Tariq were retained by Patriots and Knight Riders respectively.