Chris Gayle's 14-month exile from the Caribbean team has ended with the West Indies board picking him for the ODI series vs England. With the club vs nation debate raging, his return will be keenly watched
The cricket world is watching with interest whether the cash-rich IPL and similar T20 leagues like Australia's Big Bash and newer versions will encourage the rise of freelance players and deal a body blow to nation versus nation cricket. Last week's retirement of England's Kevin Pietersen from limited-overs cricket has only fuelled this possibility.
Whether the Gayle-WICB peace holds, or whether the global face of T20 cricket turns a 'mercenary' and encourages more talented players to follow suit remains to be seen.
The West Indies board and Gayle parted ways after last year's World Cup, after he gave an explosive radio interview sharply criticising the WICB and blaming coach Ottis Gibson for undermining the confidence of senior players. The divide was clear when Gayle signed up with RCB.
Back and forth
The Gayle-WICB saga had kept the cricket world rivetted for two reasons — the board continued to exclude a batsman with two Test triple tons, demanding he apologise or withdraw his comments. The WICB-players' association meetings ended in acrimony, Gayle wanted to know if the board was demanding his apology while the WICB kept questioning whether he was committed to play for West Indies or more keen to chase money in various T20 leagues, led by the IPL. It required the regional heads of governments to intervene and eventually broker peace in April.
For the 14 months he wasn't selected, he became a sort of T20 freelancer, pocketing hefty contracts in the IPL, Australian Big Bash and the Bangladesh Premier League. However, in a firm sign he was committed to play for West Indies, Gayle pulled out of a contract to play for Somerset.