ARNOS VALE, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – – Politicians and players will be engaged when the St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2017 national cricket season begins this Saturday January 7th January, with an exhibition game to mark the occassion.

To mark the opening of the season, a National Select XI will go head to head with a President’s Select XI, in an exhibition game slated for Saturday January 7th.

Then on the following day, Sunday January 8, 2017, will see the commencement of the National Lotteries Neil Williams 20/20 tournament with two matches.

Defending champions Radcliffe will take on Triumph United from 10:00 a.m., to be followed by the Team Rivals against Victors 2 match up at 2:00 p.m., at the Arnos Vale playing field.

The preliminary round of the 2017 tournament sees a record 18 teams competing in three groups.

Heading Group I is defending champions Radcliffe, which also includes one of the three newcomers to national cricket, Owia Stars, as well as Victors 1, Combined Youths, Triumph United, and Strike Eagles.

Heading Group II is the 2016 runners up Team Rivals. This Group is also featuring Police, Smashers, Radcliffe Too, Victors Two, and another newcomer the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College.

Group III comprises Saints, ASCO, Bequia Cricket Association, another SVG Community College eleven, North Leeward, and Belfongo.

The two top teams from each group from the preliminary round will advance to a Super Six round robin second round, from which the top two teams will contest the tournaments’ Final.

Meanwhile from 2:00 p.m. in Saturday’s T20 game between a SVGCA President XI and a National XI, the Lennox John Cup. SVGCA President Kishore Shallow will lead the President’s XI team, while Donwell Hector will lead the National XI.

Similar to last year, both teams will be mixed with senior and youth players. For the President XI, Minister of Health Luke Browne, who is a former national and Windward Islands youth cricketer, will feature, alongside Speaker of the House Jomo Thomas.

West Indies fast bowler Kesrick Williams will also make his first appearance locally since his successful international debut.

2016 SVGCA’s international and Youth cricketer of the Year Gidron Pope, will be part of the National XI, marking his return to cricket after being out of the game for four months with a broken arm.

The full teams: President XI -: Kishore Shallow (captain), Miles Bascombe, Alston Bobb, Luke Browne, Denis Byam, Deighton Butler, Dyke Cato, Keron Cottoy, Lindon James (wicketkeeper), Ray Jordan, Jenry Olliviere, Kenroy Peters, Jomo Thomas, and Kesrick Williams, with Samantha Lynch doing coaching duties.

The National XI features Donwell Hector (captain), Shaquille Browne, Kenneth Dember, Deron Greaves, Jerron John (wicketkeeper), Javid Harry, Roniel Jeffery, Jeremy Layne, Othneil Lewis, Desron Maloney, Obed McCoy, Gidron Pope, Tijourn Pope, Casmond Walters, and Roniel Jeffery, with Cleton Burnett as coach.