By E. Glenford Prescott
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ left-arm seamer Delorn Johnson is among at least four Vincentians who will be part of the Windwards Islands Volcanoes Franchise for the 2015/2016 after being picked up during the draft for the second year of the Professional Cricket League (PCL).
Johnson, the former West Indies A team pacer, was not among the 10 offered a contract by the Volcanoes as one of its elite players this year but was one of four Vincentians placed in the pool of 100 payers.
Three Vincentians are part of the 10 contracted for the second edition of the tournament, which sees a couple of rule changes governing the drafting of players, one of which mandated franchises to select at least two players outside of their territories for the 2015 season.
The contracted Vincentians are left-arm spinner Alston Bobb, left-arm pacer Kenroy Peters and batsman Sunil Ambris. Three others, Keiron Cottoy, Miles Bascombe and Dawnley Grant, who were in the pool but did not receive any offers.
But it is understood that Cottoy, a legspinning allrounder, who played for the CCC in the regional Super50 along with Dominica’s batsman, Kavem Hodge, both of whom are undertaking studies, could be offered six month contracts to play during the Season.
President of the SVG Cricket Association, Kishore Shallow, while accepting that the rule change was necessary to give exposure to more talent, also said that it will have some negative impact on players from both the Windwards and Leewards.
“In my opinion, this will help to stifle what talent is here in the Windwards because it’s hardly likely that any of the other teams will look to recruit any of the Windwards players in the pool because chances are they can get a player with more experience and exposure from one of the other territories, and we have got to be realistic,” Shallow said.
Shallow, who is also a Windwards director, said that many of the players who are not contracted have expressed a level of discomfort and he believes rightly so since it limits their chances.
President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dave Cameron, was reported as saying that the decision on the new rule was reached during a recent meeting of the WICB.
Reports say the WICB expressed disappointment with last October’s draft for the inaugural PCL, with only two teams selecting a player outside their territory.
Initially, only two players — former Guyana and West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and Barbados all-rounder Raymon Reifer — were selected by franchises outside of their territories during the first PCL draft.
However, Ramnaresh subsequently withdrew from the Trinidad and Tobago squad citing personal reasons, while Reifer held his own in helping the Guyana Jaguars to win the title.
The other players contracted by the Windwards are Devon Smith, Andre Fletcher, Shane Shillingford, Liam Sebastien, Mervyn Mathew, Tyrone Theophile and Johnson Charles.
On Thursday, the Windwards also picked up the St. Lucian pair of Keddy Lesporis and Dalton Polius as well as the Barbadian fast-bowling duo of 22-year-old Kyle Mayers and 27-year-old Kevin McClean.
Lesporis endured a less than average 2014/15 season, only managing 270 in his seven innings while Polius, who was one of the elite players, found difficulty in forcing himself into the final 11 and was only able to play two matches, in which he failed to “set the world on fire”.
In addition to Johnson, Lesporis and Polius, twelve players were put in the pool. They included the resurfaced Gairy Mathuri, and Craig Emmanuel, who is seen by many as one whose potential far outweighs his talent; Dominica’s Kevin James, who has failed to live up to early promise; batsman Jelarni Robinson and wicketkeeper/batsman Gian Benjamin, Taryck Gabriel, Kavem Hodge, Denis Smith and Josh Thomas were those who made up the rest of the pool of players from the Windwards.
But with none of these players, based on recent form, capable of breaking into and staying in the Windwards team, commentators believed that their entering the pool was an exercise in futility.
The players will have another opportunity to get a call up once they can perform in the senior Windwards tournament to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in August.
They will be in line for the “pay to play” facility, which allows players who are not contracted but make the team on form to be paid per match in which they are selected.
Windward Islands Franchise: Sunil Ambris, Alston Bobb, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Mervin Matthew, Kenroy Peters, Liam Sebastien, Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Tyrone Theophile; Delorn Johnson, Keddy Lesporis, Kyle Mayers (Barbados), Kevin McClean (Barbados), Dalton Polius.