Dubai, UAE (Feb 7, 2024) – England team-mates Sam Curran and Phil Salt are all set to link up with the Desert Vipers for the business end of this season’s ILT20 2024.
The duo will slot in with the Vipers losing Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan and Azam Khan ahead of the start of the Pakistan Super League, while Wanindu Hasaranga has returned to Sri Lanka for international duty.
The pair is arriving in Dubai off the back of appearances in the SA20 competition in South Africa – Phil for Pretoria Capitals and Sam with MI Cape Town – and will bring with them exceptional CVs when it comes to shortform cricket.
Sam was the player of the tournament when England won the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022, finishing as the joint second-highest wicket-taker – level with new Vipers team-mate Bas de Leede and behind only Hasaranga, who took 15.
The sixth highest wicket-taker for England in men’s Twenty20 Internationals, in late 2022 Sam was snapped up by Indian Premier League franchise Punjab Kings for a then-record GBP1.85 million (IR18.5 crore).
Phil also has Indian Premier League experience, with the Delhi Capitals in 2023, and in December last year set the cricketing world alight with two hundreds during England’s five-match Twenty20 International series against the West Indies in the Caribbean.
The right-hander, who is also a recognised wicketkeeper, has a batting strike-rate of 165.97 in Twenty20 Internationals and, like Sam, was part of England’s T20 World Cup-winning squad in 2022.
Phil will become the Vipers’ second Wildcard selection for the 2023 edition of the ILT20 following on from fellow England batter Dan Lawrence.
The wildcard is a new development for this season with each franchise allowed to pick two wildcard players, extending the squad limit to 24 players, while also expanding the spending purse limit by US$250,000. Wildcard players can be brought in by teams at any time in the tournament, but once framed, cannot be replaced.
Commenting on the signings, Desert Vipers Director of Cricket Tom Moody said: “We are delighted to welcome Sam and Phil to the Vipers squad.
“Both players are proven international performers with exceptional Twenty20 records and they will add an extra dimension to our team.
“I know Sam extremely well having worked with him for the Oval Invincibles at The Hundred and I know the quality he offers with bat, ball and in the field. He loves to be involved in big games at important times and that is the sort of attitude we want from our players.
“Phil has developed into one of the most exciting players in world cricket at the top of the order, as he showed in the Caribbean with England in December, and he is also an excellent wicketkeeper and so provides us with options in that regard.
“We are grateful for the efforts of Shaheen, Azam, Shadab and Wanindu during their time with the Vipers this season. All four of them were fantastic around the squad, offering us so much on and off the field. They were terrific team players and it was a joy to have them with us.
“It is now time for us to focus on two big matches to come, on Friday against the Dubai Capitals and on Sunday against the Sharjah Warriors, with the reward of a place in the play-offs if we win them.
“We have had a break after a very intense period of matches, and now is the time for us to produce the form we know we are capable of.”
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