Cayman Islands’ best cricketers will soon test themselves against the rest of the region thanks to the inaugural Stanford 20/20 Professional League. Legendary former West Indies fast bowlers Joel Garner and Reverend Wesley Hall will be guiding the players as well as former Windies pace man Ian Bishop
Cayman are grouped with Nevis, St Lucia, Montserrat, US Virgin Islands and Anguilla to be a part of the first phase of the league system which will eventually encompass the 21 countries participating in the regional Stanford 20/20 Tournament.
It’s all the work of Texan billionaire Allen Stanford who wants to revitalise West Indies cricket. He is investing $100 million in the next three years to realise that ambition. Based in Antigua, Stanford has already formed the professional side there.
Trials are set for the weekend of 25-26 in Cayman at the Smith Road Oval. The older Caymanians are generally not excited about the offer of going pro because the monthly pay is a modest US$2,400 but for the younger ones they’re more interested in carving a playing career for themselves than initial salaries.
The players will also be able to carry out West Indies, regional and national team duties as part of the programme where applicable.
‘These players are going to live, eat and breathe cricket,’ said Sir Allen Stanford of the Antigua team. ‘They are going to be paid for it. Their job will be to play full-time and they will make a living doing so. The West Indies cannot help but benefit from the calibre that we are going to see come out of this team and the league when it all comes together. We are very excited about what this means for West Indies cricket!’
Antigua & Barbuda has been training for six weeks and will play their first 20/20 match in Grenada against the Grenada national team on 6 October. Under the leadership of coach Eldine Baptiste, manager Rolston Otto and trainer Evans ‘Jawakie’ Jones, the team has been undergoing intense training and will soon take part in professional and personal development training classes as part of the plan to create a well-rounded player and individual. Cayman can expect the same sort of preparation. So how do they feel about the chance of going pro?
Khemchand Dindyal, 31 (wicket-keeper, batsman)
I played for Highlights in Guyana before coming here and for the Toronto Team West Enders in Canada. Because of work commitments I’m not able to train much in the week. I’m a project manager for a construction company and if the rumours of the monthly salary being US$2,400 are true I’m going to need more than that. I’m leaning more to just representing Cayman.
Alistair Ifill, 29 (batsman, spin bowler)
It would be a great honour to represent Cayman in the 20/20. I went on the England tour recently with Cayman Police and it was great experience to play on different wickets. It helped improve my batting and bowling. The money’s not really a problem, just playing the game to the highest level I can is my ambition. This would be a great opportunity for me.
Kevon Bazil, 25 (medium fast bowler)
It’s an honour to be in the squad of 32 and I hope I make the last 16. I used to work for a water company and just taking a break now. I’m having a good season and if I get in the side I’m looking forward to working with the legends, learning more about the game. I love playing the game and prepared to do all the hard work to make a success of my career.
Kevin Bazil, 25 (all rounder)
I’ve played football, tennis and other sports but always wanted to be a pro cricketer. I played in the Stanford tournament last year, enjoyed it and being a pro is something I relish. I moved to Cayman from Guyana four years ago to be with my brothers Shawn and Kevon who is my twin. You could say I went from Georgetown to George Town!
Steve Gordon, 39 (opening bat)
I captained the Stanford team last year because Ryan Bovell was unavailable. I’m the national vice-captain and after last year I’m looking forward to this one because it was so well organised and fun. I’m a prison officer and have my own business, The Party Mart. I will be 40 soon and I’m in the best shape of my life and will consider a contract if it fits into my work and family schedules.