Last week, it was revealed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies West Indies’ Twenty20 team, had not been offered a central contract. Now, the regional governing body is saying the Saint Lucian will be conditionally eligible for selection.
Sammy, who led the Caribbean side to glory in the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka, last turned out for West Indies in the T20s against Sri Lanka as recently as November last year, though he was left out for the preceding ODI series on that tour.
Coincidentally, the T20 format is the only one in which the West Indies has at least a 50-50 record in recent years, and the team recently climbed to the world #1 rankings, whereas they are mired in the lower half of the ODI and Test rankings.
Sammy, allrounder Andre Russell, spinners Sulieman Benn and Sunil Narine, and opener Chris Gayle have not been contracted by the WICB for 2015-2016, despite an increase in the number of centrally contracted players from 12 to 15.
But the Board is saying now that Sammy, Gayle, Russell, Narine, Dwayne Bravo, and Kieron Pollard will be eligible for selection for upcoming tournaments, including this year’s World T20, if they meet “criteria” set in place by the selection panel.
Michael Muirhead, the WICB’s chief executive, said the sidelined players did not fit into the selection panel’s vision, “principally being loyal to commitment and really build for the longer form of the game.”
But he insists that Sammy and the other six players, from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, are not consigned to the wilderness.
“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.
“Many of those players have withdrawn from the long form of the game officially and are not interested in playing for the West Indies in all formats,” he said.
In the last two years, Bravo and Sammy announced their retirement from Test cricket. Pollard has never played Test cricket and is seen by selectors as a limited-overs specialist. Although Lloyd has always been keen for Russell to play Test cricket, the allrounder told the chairman of selectors he would like to play only limited-overs cricket due to a bad knee. Narine, who has played six Tests, is busy remodelling his bowling action after he was suspended by the ICC in November last year.
Only Gayle, a 103-Test veteran, has openly stated he is still keen to return to Test cricket in 2016.