The new contracts allocated after last weekend’s auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the powerhouse among cricket franchises globally, give a clear indication of the shift in fortunes among Caribbean cricketers.
There are now four new million-dollar cricketers from the region -West Indies T/20 vice-captain Nicholas Pooran, the Guyanese pair of Romario Shepherd and Shimron Hetmeyer and former West Indies captain Jason Holder. Only one of the original T/20 superstars from the Caribbean, Andre Russell is in the millionaire club this time around. Windies’ skipper Kieron Pollard, and veterans Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine, while retained like Russell by their old teams, had to settle for less, Pollard and Narine at US$800,000 apiece and Bravo US $585,000.
Pooran has benefited best with Sunrisers Hyderabad paying US $1.4 million for his services. The same team also demonstrated its confidence in emerging all-rounder Romario Shepherd, with a US$1.035 million contract. Hetmeyer, in spite of losing his West Indies place, has apparently done enough for Rajasthan Royals to pay US$1.125 million for his contract while for Holder, once not regarded as a top T/20 player, his contract with new team Lucknow Super Giants, worth US$1.6 million, underlines his status as the world’s leading all-round cricketer.
There were other indicators from the IPL auction of the shift in stardom in West Indies Cricket. Thus, upcoming all-rounder Odean Smith, recently the centre of attention in a controversy over victimization in West Indies cricket, was richly rewarded for his stellar performances with both bat and ball, including in the recent ODI series against India. The Punjab Kinks forked out US$800,000 for his contract, the same size as those of Pollard and Narine. Who would have predicted that?
A number of others with recent impressive performances were aptly rewarded as well. Rovman Powell’s contract with the Delhi Capitals is valued at US$385,000; fast bowler Alzarri Joseph did enough to persuade the Gujarat Titans to part with US$320,000, just over twice the amount the same team is paying young all-rounder Dominic Drakes.
Spare a thought though for our own Obed McCoy, surely on his way to stardom before injury halted his progress on the international stage. No doubt that was a contributing factor to his contract with the Royals only valued at US$ 100,000 and the same would be the case for Evin Lewis whose contract Lucknow got for US$ 266,000.
Other Caribbean cricketers to win IPL contracts for the season, beginning in April, are Fabian Allen (Mumbai Indians), Sherfane Rutherford (royal Challengers Bangalore) and Kyle Mayers (Lucknow). Unlucky not to be drafted are Akeal Hosein, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell and Kennar Lewis.