Uncontracted players can still play in the World T20, says WICB
When the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) announced the list of contracted players for the 2015-16 season, it did so keeping in mind the long-term future of the side and also players’ commitments. Hence, the exclusion of stalwarts such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard didn’t come as a surprise per se, although it did raise some eyebrows.
However, the board doesn’t intend to close the doors on its marquee players as it has mentioned that uncontracted players are also in contention for International cricket, including the World T20 in India, if they meet the criteria set in place by the selection panel led by former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd.
Vision for the future
The WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead said that Sammy, along with the aforementioned players didn’t fit into the vision of the selection panel, which was based on certain criteria put forth considering the future of West Indian cricket.
“The selectors did the retainers based on where they saw West Indies cricket going and the philosophy which they wanted to encourage and adopt, principally being loyal to commitment and really build for the longer form of the game,” Muirhead told ESPN Cricinfo.
“Lloyd had previously said how and where he was projecting our cricket to go, and how he wanted to build it.”
The saga of player-board discord had reached a new low when Gayle had refused a West Indies contract in January 2015, shortly followed by Sunil Narine, who did the same. The reasoning was that the duo wanted to play in the domestic T20 leagues that are cash-rich.
Refusal of contracts
“When Chris Gayle and Narine refused our retainer contracts some years ago it was so that they had the freedom to do what they wanted," Muirhead said.
"But they are eligible to play all our games if they meet our criteria. This not a penalty.” The same was said of other players as well, who made themselves unavailable for team selection because they wanted to be free and play in the T20s around the world.
The withdrawal from Test cricket has also been a contentious issue, with Bravo and Sammy having already retired from the format, Pollard yet to make his Test debut in the light of him being seen exclusively as a limited-overs specialist, and Russell not intending to play the longest format owing to a bad knee.
Only the 103-Test veteran Gayle has expressed his desire to play the format for the national team in 2016, who himself is struggling with a problematic back.
“Many of those players have withdrawn from the long form of the game officially and are not interested in playing for the West Indies in all formats,” Muirhead added.
This is a generous move by the WICB with respect to its players, especially Sammy who leads the WI T20 side, and the ball is now in the cricketers’ court to comply with the directions and make themselves available for national duty.