After months of downtime, a galaxy of T20 stars and specialists will return to action in CPL on August 18. That will be followed by IPL on September 19. ESPNcricinfo picks out seven players for whom this CPL could mean a big deal.
Sunil Narine (Trinbago Knight Riders)
"You can't let a guy with a broken finger win games." That was the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots coach Robin Singh talking about Narine after the offspinner claimed 2 for 10 in his four overs to help Trinbago Knight Riders secure a home qualifier in the last CPL.
That was in October. Since then Narine hasn't played top-flight cricket, thanks to that finger injury. The Knight Riders went down to eventual champions Barbados Tridents in the second qualifier and subsequently Narine missed West Indies' tour of the subcontinent.
Narine has warmed himself up by playing the Central Super League (CSL) - a T10 tournament - but is he fit and ready for the CPL, and then the IPL? Can he also rattle off quick runs at the top? If Narine is indeed back to top form, he could play a key role for Knight Riders on the usually spin-friendly tracks at home in Trinidad and carry that form into the other Knight Riders franchise in the IPL.
Carlos Brathwaite (Jamaica Tallawahs)
He just turned 32, but Brathwaite must know his career is at crossroads. In 2019, he not only lost the T20I captaincy but also his spot in the West Indies team across formats. Then the Patriots, where he had played from the team's inception four seasons ago, did not retain him despite his leading them to play-offs in 2019 CPL.
Luckily, the Tallawahs have picked him for this CPL, allowing him another opportunity to prove his worth and regain his position in West Indies squads. The T20 World Cup will now be played in October 2021, but Brathwaite knows he will face stiff competition from not just Kieron Pollard, West Indies' white-ball captain, but the two other senior allrounders in Dwayne Bravo, who came out of T20I retirement earlier this year and Andre Russell.
Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana Amazon Warriors)
The 23-year old is among the most exciting batsmen in the Caribbean, so much so that Andy Roberts recently picked him out as one for the future. However, Hetmyer probably hasn't had enough game-time in the lead-up to the CPL, having pulled out of the England tour, citing concerns around the Covid-19 situation. Earlier, in IPL 2019, he got only five games at Royal Challengers Bangalore and managed only 90 runs at an underwhelming strike rate of 123.28. A productive stint on the spin-friendly tracks in Trinidad & Tobago may not be a bad way to tune up for the IPL, which will be played on fairly similar pitches out in the UAE.
Chris Lynn (St Kitts & Nevis Patriots)
The hard-hitting Australian opening batsman missed last CPL after he signed for the Euro T20 Slam which has failed to take off. Subsequently, Lynn lost his place in Australia's T20I side, which led to his taking a swipe at the selectors.
But Lynn did bounce back, blasting 113 not out off 55 balls in PSL 2020. He will now reunite with his Lahore Qalandars team-mate and fellow Australian Ben Dunk at Patriots. Can Lynn regain his big-hitting form and then make a seamless switch to Mumbai Indians in the IPL later this year?
Chris Green (Guyana Amazon Warriors)
The 26-year old offspinner has taken over the captaincy of Amazon Warriors from Shoaib Malik, who has pulled out of the league, but their rivals Knight Riders may keep an even closer eye on him. Green was suspended from bowling due to an illegal action in January earlier this year after Kolkata Knight Riders had snapped him up for his base price of INR 20 lakh in the IPL auction. Brendon McCullum, who is head coach both Knight Riders' teams, had also backed Green to overcome the setback.
After undergoing remedial work, Green's action was cleared in June, but with the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the cricket calendar, he's yet to test it out in a high-profile game.
Rovman Powell (Jamaica Tallawahs)
Another allrounder, who is in West Indies' mix, Powell will have to juggle batting, bowling, and captaincy this CPL. After shellacking a 38-ball century in the Super50 Cup in 2019, Powell was back in West Indies' T20I side for the Sri Lanka tour. However, he did miss a major chunk of the CPL that year due to injury, and Tallawahs finished at the bottom, with just two wins from ten games. The Chris Gayle-Ramnaresh Sarwan controversy has soured Tallawahs' build-up, and the onus is now on Powell to rouse the team.
Asif Ali (Jamaica Tallawahs)
After a hot streak in PSL in 2018, when he helped Islamabad United win, Ali became a T20 globetrotter, earning gigs in the Mzansi Super League, Bangladesh Premier League, and Global T20 Canada. This, however, will be his first taste of the Caribbean Premier League. Ali doesn't quite have recent form on his side: he scored a mere 81 runs in seven innings in PSL 2020 at an average of 16.20 and strike rate of 150. Having also been jettisoned from Pakistan's white-ball sides, can Ali serve a reminder of his power-hitting?