Afghanistan allrounder Mohammad Nabi, Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane, and Australian batsman Ben Dunk headlined the CPL 2020 draft that was held virtually on June 24. All three players fetched deals worth USD 130,000 each, with Nabi being the first pick in the draft. The CPL is scheduled to be played in Trinidad & Tobago between August 18 and September 10 behind closed doors, subject to the permission from the local government.
Nabi had been part of St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in 2017 and was snapped up by St Lucia Zouks, who finished second from bottom last season in the six-team league.
A total of 537 players had registered for the draft, but a few names including New Zealand seamer Tim Southee and England allrounder Ravi Bopara pulled out. No player in the draft attracted the top price of USD 160,000. That was mainly because the CPL allowed the six franchises to sign overseas players outside of the draft for the first time.
Accordingly, Australian opener Chris Lynn was signed by St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, while Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan was scooped up by defending champions Barbados Tridents. Both players are understood to have fetched USD 160,000. Rashid's Afghanistan team-mate Qais Ahmad was signed by Guyana Amazon Warriors while South African batsman Rilee Rossouw was hired by Zouks.
Nabi will help fill the void created by the absence of Chris Gayle, who pulled out of CPL 2020, citing personal reasons. Lamichhane, who had played for the champions Tridents last season before leaving midway through the tournament for international duty, will turn out for Jamaica Tallawahs in the upcoming season. He is set to team up with former West Indies and Patriots captain Carlos Brathwaite at Tallawahs. It is understood that the 31-year-old big-hitting allrounder was bought for USD 110,000.
As for Alex Hales, he was the only Englishman to be picked up in the draft, with reigning champions Tridents retaining him for USD 70,000. Hales, who was the first pick in the 2019 CPL draft, had an underwhelming stint that year, managing 197 runs in 12 innings at an average of 16.41 and strike rate of 124.68. Hales hasn't been involved with England since being dropped from the World Cup last year following a positive drug test.
Dunk was rewarded for his hot form in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Mzansi Super League (MSL), getting a gig with Patriots. He had been part of the CPL back in 2014, when he represented the now-defunct Antigua Hawksbills. Dunk was the top-scorer in the last MSL, with 415 runs in 10 innings at a strike rate touching 150. He then tallied 266 runs in seven innings, striking at an incredible 186.01 in PSL 2020, which was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
England's batting sensation Tom Banton, and his captain Eoin Morgan went unsold, as did former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi. Quite a few high-profile Pakistan players, including Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz, were set to play CPL 2020, but the tour to England meant they were all unavailable for the league. T20 specialists Asif Ali and Sohail Tanvir, though, were selected by Tallawahs and Patriots respectively.
Afghanistan players in demand
Nabi wasn't the only Afghanistan player to make a splash at the draft. Fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq will join Qais Ahmad at Amazon Warriors while exciting wicketkeeper-batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz will play for defending champions Tridents. Gurbaz has a variety of unorthodox strikes in his repertoire like his idol AB de Villiers. After leading Afghanistan to a 2-1 T20I series win over a full-strength West Indies side, led by Kieron Pollard, in India, the teenager cracked an 18-ball half-century on his Bangladesh Premier League debut for Khulna Tigers in Dhaka.
Noor Ahmad, all of 15 years old, got a gig with Zouks. The left-arm wristspinner has a big-turning wrong'un in his repertoire, and was particularly threatening against right-handers in the 20-over Shpageeza league. Against right-handers, he took six wickets in 130 balls while conceding 131 runs. All up, he claimed eight wickets in the league and was named the Emerging Player of the tournament. He then pressed onto play for Afghanistan in the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year in South Africa.
TKR sign up Tambe
Forty-eight-year-old Pravin Tambe, the former Mumbai and Rajasthan Royals legspinner, was hired by Trinbago Knight Riders for USD 7,500. He is set to become the first Indian to feature in the CPL. Earlier in 2019, Tambe was snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL auction, but was forced to withdraw later after the BCCI pulled him up for playing in unsanctioned cricket leagues like the T10 League. Tambe was one of the two Indians in the CPL draft along with former Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Asad Pathan, who found no takers.
Zimbabwe allrounder Sikandar Raza also went to TKR for USD 7,500, as did fast bowler Anderson Phillip. Australian legspinner Fawad Ahmed was back at TKR after playing for Zouks last season. In 2018, Ahmed had spun TKR to back-to-back title wins, taking 22 wickets in 13 games at an impressive economy rate of 6.18.
Locals rewarded for Super50 form
Chemar Holder, who broke into West Indies' Test squad for the England tour, will join Kesrick Williams at Zouks. Mystery-spin bowling allrounder Mark Deyal, who can turn the ball both ways with his knuckles, switched from TKR to Zouks.
The strong performers in the Super50 Cup - West Indies' domestic 50-over tournament - were rewarded with CPL contracts. Wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva, who is currently on tour with the national Test side in the UK, was drafted by Patriots. Da Silva hit 310 runs in nine innings in West Indies Emerging team's run to the title. Nkrumah Bonner, who has been among the runs in both the Super 50 and the four-day format, was picked up by Tallawahs.
The CPL has told all franchises to assemble their squads from August 1, with the players and support staff having to undergo a two-week period in quarantine before the tournament gets underway on August 18.
Retained: Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Glenn Phillips, Chadwick Walton, Oshane Thomas
Signed: Tabraiz Shamsi
Drafted: Sandeep Lamichhane, Carlos Brathwaite, Asif Ali, Fidel Edwards, Preston McSween, Andre McCarthy, Nicholas Kirton, Jeavor Royal, Nkrumah Bonner, Veerasammy Permaul, Ryan Persaud
St Lucia Zouks
Retained: Daren Sammy, Colin Ingram, Andre Fletcher, Kesrick Williams, Obed McCoy, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kavem Hodge
Signed: Rilee Rossouw, Anrich Nortje, Noor Ahmad, Kimani Melius
Drafted: Mohammad Nabi, Chemar Holder, Mark Deyal, Leniko Boucher, Javelle Glen, Saad Bin Zafar
Trinbago Knight Riders
Retained: Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Colin Munro, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Amir Jangoo, Tion Webster, Akeal Hosein, Ali Khan
Signed: Fawad Ahmed, Tim Seifert, Jayden Searles
Drafted: Sikandar Raza, Anderson Phillip, Pravin Tambe
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots
Retained: Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit, Alzarri Joseph, Dominic Drakes
Signed: Chris Lynn, Rassie van der Dussen, Sohail Tanvir, Ish Sodhi
Drafted: Ben Dunk, Dennis Bulli, Joshua Da Silva, Colin Archilbald, Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Sunny Sohal
Via transfer: Denesh Ramdin
Retained: Jason Holder, Harry Gurney, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Hayden Walsh Jr, Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Raymon Reifer, Justin Greaves
Signed: Rashid Khan, Marcus Stoinis, Nyeem Young
Drafted: Alex Hales, Kyle Mayers, Joshua Bishop, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shayan Jayangir
Guyana Amazon Warriors
Retained: Imran Tahir, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Green, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Odean Smith, Anthony Bramble
Signed: Ross Taylor, Qais Ahmad, Kevin Sinclair
Drafted: Naveen-ul-Haq, Ashmead Nedd, Jessy Singh
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo