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Could relief be on the way for WI cricket?
West Indies cricket fans had two reasons to rejoice last week for varying reasons.
Firstly, they were kept off their seats by a record-breaking innings of 125 not out from Trinidadian Evin Lewis as the team thrashed India by nine wickets in the one-off T20 match in Jamaica, which brought a little relief from a 3-1 loss to the visitors in the one-day international series.
Then there was the announcement in mid-week that Cricket West Indies president Dave Cameron and Trinidadian batsman Darren Bravo had resolved their stand-off, thus allowing the talented young left-hander to return to competitive action for the regional side.
Bravo had been banned from selection since last November after posting a controversial tweet calling Cameron stupid in response to the latter’s comment on Jamaican TV about the player’s suitability for an ‘A’ contract.
Both men then refused to budge on their stances in a battle of egos which hurt the team more than themselves, until lawyers got involved. That both men apologised at the end of it all, but possibly only because their lawyers advised them so, still suggests their relationship could still be on shaky ground. With Bravo still pursuing his lawsuit against CWI for being sent back home for the same incident means there may be more to this in future.
The brightest light from last week, however, would have been the announcement of the possible discontinuation of the policy which made playing in the regional one-day tournaments a caveat for players’ selection on Windies teams.
The policy has prevented current coach Stuart Law from picking his best sides, since the majority of the top players are always abroad plying their trades in T20 leagues across the country during the period in question. No other cricket playing country has such a policy and Windies has suffered for it, so much so that they now face the embarrassment of having to enter a playoff to earn qualification for the 2019 Cricket World Cup—as if being left out the recently-concluded Champions Trophy in England was not enough due to their low ranking on the International Cricket Council rankings.
That the likes of the Bravo brothers, Darren and Dwayne, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy, to name a few, will now be part of the mix is a sporting thrill for fans who have been starved of real Windies success for years. But the fact that stories have suggested that this decision came only through negotiations with the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) and only after it suggested an amnesty on the issue, although Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams had hinted about doing away with the policy before now, still brings this newspaper back to its main point.
Under Mr Cameron, CWI has been confrontational in its relationship with the players. In fact, Cameron’s leadership of the body has managed to draw the ire of even regional leaders, who have unsuccessfully been seeking to gain answers for some of the questionable managerial decisions made—all of which seem to mitigate against the success of the team. So that from a time when insularity was what kept selectors from picking the best possible side, we are now at a point where “bad mind” makes the difference between a Windies ‘A’ or ‘B’ team takes the field.
Mr Gayle, who is known for his frankness, at least seems convinced something good is now happening between the players and the board. Speaking after he was named in the T20 side last week, he said: “Things are beginning to open up a little more now between players and the board. It’s looking good, and we’ve to try and build from this to get the best players out on the field.”
This newspaper certainly hopes Mr Gayle is right and that this latest move represents a turnaround on the part of Mr Cameron, since there is another possibility which may have prompted the apparent change of heart. With big tours and World Cup pre-qualification ahead, it is also quite possible that money negotiations may be playing a factor in the seemingly new dispensation. It is quite possible then that Mr Cameron’s olive branch may be a temporary reprieve to serve a particular purpose. This newspaper and the fans no doubt are certainly hoping this is not the case and that Windies cricket can use the latest turn of events to rejuvenate itself going forward.
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