Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding believes the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) represents an excellent opportunity for the development of professional cricket in the region.
The 59-year-old, known for his strident criticism of the shortest form of the game, said the CPL was special as it had the potential to give birth to a new generation of professional cricketers in the Caribbean. He has signed on as the ambassador for the development programme, reports CMC.
"I think cricket has lost a lot of young people in the Caribbean who are thinking 'why bother with cricket because unless you are playing for the West Indies then there is nothing there for you'," said the former pacer who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests.
"The advent of the CPL means West Indian youngsters can now think to themselves 'hey, I can make a reasonably good living from playing cricket.' Now there is something here in the Caribbean they can play in, they can make a reasonable living and they can go on and play cricket again."
The cash-rich CPL is set to bowl off in July, with franchises based in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
Each outfit is stipulated to have 11 of their 15 players qualified to play for the West Indies, with four required to be under the age of 23.
Holding said it was clear the CPL's objectives would result in new international players being identified and properly developed, even for the longer forms of the game.
"The CPL is looking at a development programme which they will start rolling out in January 2014, I understand," said Holding, now an internationally renowned broadcaster.
"They will have about 60 young cricketers, 10 from each of the six franchise regions, who they will put on contract and create programmes to improve their cricket. That is what I am interested in."