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Caribbean Premier League has huge opportunity for growth, says CEO

MUMBAI: Caribbean Premier League (CPL) CEO Damien O’Donohoe believes that this year’s competition will be the biggest and best yet.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s competition at Harvard Cricket Club, Port of Spain, yesterday, O’Donohoe was joined by members of the reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR)—coach Simon Helmot, Kevon Cooper, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Hamza Tariq—to participate in a ceremony, hosted by Digicel, to acknowledge the efforts of the prestigious club.

Dwayne Bravo’s Trinbago Knight Riders will start their defence of the CPL title against the West Indies’ World T20-winning captain Darren Sammy’s St Lucia Zouks at Queen’s Park Oval on Wednesday night.

Following the ceremony, O’Donohoe addressed the assembled media and said that the future of CPL is safe as the internationally renowned competition bids to extend its reach, both locally and globally in the weeks ahead.

“The CPL continues to grow at a fast pace and we are hugely excited about the forthcoming campaign. Over the close season, the team has worked hard to help deliver an outstanding product for our incredibly loyal supporters across all six teams. And with a new territory opening up in Lauderhill, Florida, from 28 to 31 July, these are exciting times for the growth of cricket in the West Indies,” he said.

The introduction of the six marquee players—AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Watson—in each of the franchises will add another dimension to the competitiveness and quality of cricket on show, he said.

Describing the Harvard Cricket Club as ‘a real heartland of youth cricket in Port of Spain’, O’Donohoe said that the CPL’s vision is to develop youth cricket and make the sport more accessible, engaging and inspirational for young supporters.

“After the heroics of the West Indies men’s, women’s and under-19 world title-winning squads in recent months, it is a golden era for cricket in the Caribbean, and I have no doubt that the future of the game is in good hands. Each of our six teams will include an under-19 representative, reaffirming our commitment to encouraging up-and-coming talent, while the addition of the ICC Americas representatives will also help extend CPL’s reach across North America,” he said.

The CEO gave special thanks to title sponsors Hero MotoCorp and Digicel for their continued support to West Indies cricket. “Without their support and financial backing, the CPL could not hope to have the same profile or stature,” he said.

In the 2015 season of the CPL, over 90 million people watched the CPL across the globe while more than 300,000 fans came through the turnstiles to show their support to their teams. This year, the matches will be viewed across more territories than ever before. One World Sports (USA), Sony (India), Dave/UKTV (UK), Sky (New Zealand), Fox Sports (Australia), EcoNet/KweseTV (sub-Saharan Africa) and OSN (Middle East) will telecast the CPL to a growing international audience.

“CPL, as we know, is the biggest party in sport. It’s ‘Cricket Played Louder’ and, more than that, we see this great tournament as a means of showcasing and celebrating all that is positive about Caribbean culture—from sport to music, to the tourism and the rich history that makes the Caribbean such a popular destination. This year we hope to grow even further and we invite as many fans as possible to come and join us on our journey,” O’Donohoe concluded.