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WI caught in Gayle row

As India gear up for a challenging series against hosts West Indies, there is clearly an uneasy calm in the Caribbean camp with just two days to go for the opening Twenty20 International at the Queen's Park Oval. N Ananthanarayanan writes.

cricket Updated: Jun 03, 2011 16:01 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

As India gear up for a challenging series against hosts West Indies, there is clearly an uneasy calm in the Caribbean camp with just two days to go for the opening Twenty20 International at the Queen's Park Oval.

The Chris Gayle issue is burning bright across the Caribbean islands. His brilliant form that took Bangalore Royal Challengers to the final as well as his confrontation with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is a major topic of discussion ahead of the fresh home series.

The Caribbean cricket board has made it clear that Gayle, who left for the IPL after being ignored for the start of Pakistan's tour and was again left out for the Twenty20 game and the first two ODIs against India, should explain his controversial radio interview in April before the selectors decide whether to open the doors for the explosive player.

However, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has thrown its lot behind the influential Jamaican player, saying comments in the radio interview ---expressing his hurt and anger against the board --- was made in Gayle's personal capacity.

The board and the players' body have faced off many times in the past and WIPA has expressed concern over the Gayle situation, threatening another possible row.

Players' loyalties
West Indies team manager Richie Richardson refused to comment on Gayle, pointing to the fact that the Caribbean board was seized of the matter. However, the former skipper, who led the team to the 1996 World Cup semifinals, was clear where the player loyalties should lie in the club versus country debate while backing the need for a window in the international calendar for the IPL.

"All I can say is Twenty20 cricket is very important, there is lot of money, but the authorities have got to find a way and make sure there is a balance between all formats. They should make sure nothing suffers. "There is lot of razzmatazz in T20 but Tests are very important. Retired players in T20 is fine but those who are good enough to play for country, there should not be any tournament that will take it away from playing for the country."

Lean patch
West Indies cricket has been going through a lean phase for several years now and sponsorship has not been easy for the cricket board. So the WICB is not in a position to stop any player --- all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard being the other two prominent names that featured in IPL --- from the franchise league.

There are bigger concerns as attempts are made to turn things around, especially in batting where former stalwart Desmond Haynes is the batting coach.

"At the moment cricket is weak," Richardson admitted. "But we will be back."