One of the biggest underachievers in the Caribbean Premier League so far, St Lucia Zouks begin their campaign in the eighth season against Jamaica Tallawahs. Having finished fifth in the past couple of seasons, the Darren Sammy-led side will look to qualify for the playoffs for the first time.
St Lucia Zouks have signed four players; Rilee Rossouw, Anrich Nortje, Noor Ahmad and Kimani Melius, out of which Rossouw and Nortje will not be available for the season due to traveling issues.
Among the retained players, Colin Ingram will be unavailable for the same issue. Moreover, Chris Gayle, who was expected to join the Zouks for the upcoming season, has pulled out citing personal reasons.
Mohammad Nabi and Chemar Holder are the two of the biggest names among the seven drafted players. Scott Kuggeleijn, Najibullah Zadran and Jonathan Wells have been named as the replacements for the three Proteas players.
St Lucia Zouks Squad:
Retained: Daren Sammy, Colin Ingram (Overseas) (Unavailable), Andre Fletcher, Kesrick Williams, Obed McCoy, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kavem Hodge.
Signed: Rilee Rossouw (Overseas) (Unavailable), Anrich Nortje (Overseas) (Unavailable), Noor Ahmad (Overseas), Kimani Melius.
Drafted: Mohammad Nabi (Overseas), Chemar Holder, Mark Deyal, Leniko Boucher, Javelle Glen, Saad Bin Zafar (ICC Americas pick).
Replacements: Scott Kuggeleijn (Overseas), Najibullah Zadran (Overseas), Jonathan Wells (Overseas)
St Lucia Zouks Strength and Weakness:
Despite the absence of T20 stalwarts like Ingam and Rossouw, St Lucia Zouks' batting has a formidable look. Cornwall had the highest strike rate (190.98) last season among batsmen who batted in a minimum of 5 innings. Fletcher, despite not having great numbers last year, complements Cornwall well at the top. The reliable Jonathan Wells, who plays for Adelaide Strikers in BBL, is the perfect fit at number 3.
The Afghan duo of Najibullah and Nabi along with two-time World Cup-winning skipper Sammy are proven finishers in T20 cricket. Kavem Hodge and Mark Deyal are quality middle order options who can be used to fill the number four slot or as floaters.
The fast bowling department lies in promising hands of Chemar Holder, Obed McCoy and Kesrick Williams, along with skipper Darren Sammy. Kiwi pacer Scott Kuggeleijn is a proven T20 campaigner and a quality backup.
Noor Ahmad, the chinaman bowler from Afghanistan, is expected to be the trump card of the St Lucia Zouks. He showed some really impressive skills in the recently concluded U-19 World Cup and the 15-year-old can spring up some surprises in the upcoming season.
Nabi and Cornwall are the other main spinners in the St Lucia Zouks squad. Kavem Hodge, with his left-arm spin, adds variety. Saad Bin Zafar is a quality backup along with Mark Deyal. However, the absence of an experienced leg spinner might turn out to be a drawback for the St Lucia Zouks.
St Lucia Zouks Probable First-Choice XI
Rahkeem Cornwall, Andre Fletcher (wk), Jonathan Wells, Kavem Hodge, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Darren Sammy (c), Chemar Holder, Kesrick Williams, Obed McCoy, Noor Ahmad