Alex Hales was a happy man after being picked up by the Barbados Tridents as first pick during the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League draft at the Gfinity eSports Arena in London. The Tridents wasted little time in using the very first pick of the draft to snare the big-hitting England batsman, who, speaking later during the draft, said he was thrilled to be heading back to an island he described as one of his favourite places to play cricket for what will be his first taste of the biggest party in sport. The St Lucia Stars are looking to make an impact after a couple of tough years and look to have done some good business Last year’s leading CPL wicket-taker Fawad Ahmed arrives from Trinbago Knight Riders as St Lucia Stars’ marquee player There will also be a real Sri Lankan flavour to the Stars’ 2019 line-up. Lasith Malinga, match-winning hero for Mumbai Indians at the recent IPL final, was snapped up in round one of the and will be joined at St Lucia by two of his countrymen in power-packed all-rounder Thisara Perera and the livewire keeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella. The Stars also secured John Campbell, who has been making a real name for himself for the West Indies in 2019, and Rahkeem Cornwall for their 17-man squad. Two-time defending champions TKR understandably saw little reason to make wholesale changes. They were the only franchise to take full advantage of the option to retain or acquire six players ahead of the draft, with the high-profile return of Kieron Pollard already confirmed before the news came that his old mate Dwayne Bravo would again be leading the Trinbago charge. The leading run-scorer in the 2018 Hero CPL Colin Munro was also retained, along with the versatile and dangerous Sunil Narine and one of the breakout stars of last year’s tournament, USA quick Ali Khan. The Knight Riders then moved to bring back more familiar faces in rounds five and eight of the draft in Denesh Ramdin and Khary Pierre. New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham continues a fine tradition of Kiwi talent at the Knight Riders, while the exciting Muhammad Hasnain adds further bowling depth to a squad that will have eyes firmly fixed on a third straight Hero CPL title and fourth overall. Last year’s runners-up, Guyana Amazon Warriors, have also kept faith with plenty of last year’s heroes. Keeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran was acquired ahead of the draft as a marquee player, while young hometown heroes Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford were all retained along with veteran Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik. Australia spinner Chris Green, who ended last season captaining the Amazon Warriors, was redrafted in round six. The exciting Brandon King and Romario Shepherd are also on board as Guyana, so often the Hero CPL bridesmaids, look to make that last step to glory. Having bagged Hales early and announced Jason Holder as their marquee player, the Tridents continued to make waves with some high-quality additions. Pakistan left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz was retained and is joined in Barbados by two international team-mates. Hard-hitting all-rounder Asif Ali, whose impressive ODI form against England recently has earned him a World Cup spot, was a round-three pick while canny left-arm spinner Imad Wasim could prove an inspired choice down in round nine of the draft. West Indies pair Ashley Nurse and Shai Hope were retained, while Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane is another exciting addition for the Barbados franchise. The headline news for Jamaica Tallawahs was the return of the Universe Boss himself, Chris Gayle, and the prospect of him lining up with Andre Russell – arguably the world’s biggest T20 star right now and an easy choice for retention – is a mouth-watering one. Glenn Phillips’ impressive form last season saw him retained, as too were fast bowler Oshane Thomas and all-rounder Rovman Powell. Chadwick Walton – leading run-scorer back in 2017 – was a round-three pick, while the latest Afghanistan spin sensation Zahir Khan arrived in round five. The Patriots retained Evin Lewis, Carlos Brathwaite and the soldier himself Sheldon Cottrell, while South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen also returns. Fabian Allen also stays with the Patriots after being drafted as a marquee player in round two. Sri Lanka’s left-arm fast-bowling all-rounder Isuru Udana was the Patriots’ first-round pick, while Englishman Laurie Evans was picked up in round six. Former Guyana Amazon Warrior Rayad Emrit brings plenty of experience to the bowling attack, while Devon Thomas is also no stranger to Hero CPL crowds. Each completed squad is made up of 17 players, including a minimum of nine senior West Indian players, two emerging West Indies players, a maximum of five overseas stars, and an ICC Americas player.