Five reasons why you should watch the CPL 2018

Kevon Cooper and Ronsford Beaton celebrate a Patriots wicket Randy Brooks - CPL T20 / Getty

Old rivalries, veteran players, spectacular celebrations and a potential saviour for cricket - CPL 2018 has it all. Here's why you shouldn't miss out on the action from the Caribbean Islands:

Global superstars galore

The Caribbean Premier League has always attracted the world's best T20 players, and this year the list has only expanded due to the postponement of the Bangladesh Premier League.

Steven Smith and David Warner, banned from international cricket by their home board and aching to score big after a lukewarm Canada Global T20 League, will be available for the full tournament. That's unprecedented outside of the IPL; they don't even play Australia's Big Bash League for its complete duration.

Also making their maiden Caribbean trips are Mark Chapman, the New Zealand batsman, and Nepal wunderkind Sandeep Lamichhane. The other big returning players are CPL veterans Hashim Amla, David Miller, Luke Ronchi, Mahmudullah and Brendon McCullum, among others.

Dre Russ is back

The biggest returning player, however, will be allrounder Andre Russell, who missed out last season due to a doping ban. He was CPL 2016's Most Valuable Player and will captain Jamaica Tallawahs following Kumar Sangakkara's retirement in 2018.

His comeback has been promising - with a batting strike-rate of 184.79 in IPL 2018 - where he was among the top five six-hitters of the season. In the CPL, Russell has averaged over 50 in 2013, and in 2016 when Tallawahs won the season, his bowling average was an impressive 19.27. The additional pressure of captaincy will also make for an interesting sub-plot for the T20 superstar.

New rules (and one that could actually save cricket)

T20 cricket was meant to be wrapped up in three hours, but that hasn't quite worked out. Slow games have forced the organising committee to mete out hefty fines on team captains and yet, T20 games continue to finish late.

Starting from this edition, slow over-rates in the CPL will be punished by blows to teams' net run-rates, which could potentially hamper their qualification into the playoffs. If teams do not finish 20 overs in 85 minutes, a deduction of 0.05 will be made from their net run-rate for the first over that is delivered after time, and a deduction of 0.10 for every over thereafter.

The cap on foreign players allowed in the XI have also been increased - from four to five - despite teams having a thin overseas contingent. And, for the first time in T20 cricket, Super Overs will be preceded by a toss. Earlier, the team batting second in a game would bat first in the one-over shootout.

Renewed rivalries and epic celebrations

If you were to type "greatest sledge revenge in history" on YouTube, most results would direct you to the Chadwick Walton-Kesrick Williams duel that lit last season up. Note-taking, bat-signing and the mostly harmless in-your-face-celebrations are a part of CPL's unique identity, so expect more of that in 2018.

Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard also have a long-standing rivalry while facing each other, with dancing send-offs and sarcastic goodbyes only a few of their moves. Don't forget to look out for Tabraiz Shamsi's bucketful of dance moves - the bus driver, the mortal kombat and the shoe-telephone, and also keep an eye out for Sheldon Cottrell's military salute, Chris Gayle's Gangnam style, Imran Tahir's race to the boundary and the classic 'Run da World' dance from all of Bravo's buddies.

Breeding ground for future T20 stars

Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman may be missing CPL 2018 due to national commitments, but that doesn't mean fans in Afghanistan have nothing to look forward to. Legspinner Qais Ahmad, the second-highest wicket-taker at the U-19 World Cup, will turn out for the St Lucia Stars and already has his team-mates excited and the opposition worried.

USA's Ali Khan, a fast bowler originally from Pakistan, will represent defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders while his national team-mate Steven Taylor will try to turn his T20 career around after a flop show last season.

Lamichhane's replacement for the second half of St Kitts and Nevis Patriots' season is South African domestic batting star Rassie van der Dussen, who was one of the outstanding performers in the Canada T20 League. Also on everyone's radar is the 19-year-old batsman Sherfane Rutherford, whose 134 for West Indies B in the Canada T20 league, has been one of the standout T20 performances of 2018.