By Deivarayan Muthu
Kesrick Williams (Jamaica Tallawahs)
A member of the Coast Guard in St Vincent, Williams has kept batsmen wary for the past two years. His tally of 17 wickets last season, including an incredible triple-wicket maiden for Jamaica Tallawahs against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, earned him a call-up to the West Indies T20 squad. He impressed immediately, claiming 2 for 15 on debut against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in September 2016. Later that year, he was part of the Rajshahi Kings side that finished runners-up in the Bangladesh Premier League.
More recently, in his second ODI, Williams denied MS Dhoni at the death and helped West Indies defend 189 with his assortment of variations. He is currently the second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is this year with 14 wickets in eight matches at an economy rate of 6.69. His celebratory antics – the selfiebration run and the page flipper – have made him a popular character, too.
Ronsford Beaton (Trinbago Knight Riders)
A tall quick with a smooth action, Beaton can consistently hit speeds north of 140kph and bowl accurate yorkers in the slog overs. He was called up to the West Indies squad for the T20Is against Afghanistan at home, but did not get a game. While sheer pace is his calling card, he also has a cool head. In 2014, two nights after conceding a last-ball six in a heartbreaking loss against Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, he bowled a nerveless last over to stun centurion Dwayne Smith and Barbados Tridents. A strong showing in this CPL could put him on the radar for West Indies’ limited-overs series against England in September.
Rahkeem Cornwall (St Lucia Stars)
At 6 feet, 5 inches, Cornwall towers imposingly over most team-mates and opponents alike. His frame may have attracted the inevitable comments, but he has mighty shots to match. Ask the visiting English side against whom he hit 59 off 61 balls, including six fours and three sixes, in a practice match in February 2017.
His offspin is more decent than deadly. He topped the wickets charts in West Indies A’s unofficial Tests in Sri Lanka last year, grabbing 23 wickets in three matches at 19.82. He was also consistent in West Indies’ domestic 50-over competition, the Regional Super50, scoring 252 runs at 50.40 to add to 10 wickets at an economy rate of 3.63. His all-round consistency hasn’t missed the eyes of chief selector Courtney Browne but he conceded Cornwall’s “conditioning” was a hindrance to higher honours.
Shadab Khan (Trinbago Knight Riders)
All of 18, Shadab already boats an enviable CV: Champions Trophy winner, the toast of the PSL, and the backing of captain Sarfraz Ahmed and former captain Wasim Akram, who had worked with him in the PSL. He has a deceptive wrong’un, and his unorthodox bowling action – he shapes up somewhat like an offspinner – only makes it tougher for batsmen to pick it. He has already had a taste of the Caribbean pitches, having taken 10 wickets for 75 runs in his first four T20Is this year. His partnership with Sunil Narine in the Trinbago line-up forms an engaging subplot in the tournament. Good luck to the batsmen.
Jesse Ryder (St Lucia Stars )
Remember New Zealand’s wild child, whose international career has been blighted by a spate of off-field problems? He last played for the country in January 2014. His chances of playing for New Zealand again look grim, but a CPL gig, which follows a stint in the Hong Kong Twenty20 Blitz, gives him an opportunity to show the rest of the T20 world that he still has those powerful short-arm jabs and wristy pick-up shots. Ryder has also been named in New Zealand’s squad for the Indoor Cricket World Cup, which begins in September this year in Dubai.
Steven Taylor (Guyana Amazon Warriors)
Born to Jamaican immigrants and raised in South Florida, Taylor is a bruising opening batsman who lays claim to USA’s two centuries in T20 cricket. In 2015, he became the first player from America to secure a CPL deal when he was signed up Barbados Tridents, coached by his former USA coach Robin Singh. Chances have been limited for Taylor in the CPL, but an injury to Chris Lynn might brighten up his prospects this season and push him closer in his pursuit of representing West Indies. He comes into the tournament, having scored 264 runs at a strike-rate of 93.61 in the Regional Super50 for Jamaica. That he has another string in his bow – offspin – makes him a valuable asset in T20s. (Espncricinfo)