When coach Otis Gibson called out his senior players for their non-performance in the World Cup early in 2011 he evoked responses from two of them which set off a chain of events that have left West Indian fans divided until now with seemingly no resolution in sight.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the dependable middle-order batsman, was so incensed that he felt it necessary to go to the press where, among other things, he accused the coach of trying to tell him – a veteran of 17 years of international cricket – how to bat. Chris Gayle, the region’s best opening bats, condemned the captain, coach and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in a radio interview which precipitated a series of events that have conspired to keep the big left-hander out of the regional side ever since.
While Chanderpaul and the WICB settled their differences it has not been so with Gayle who has become immensely popular in the numerous T20 leagues around the world. Accusations and counter accusations were followed by fruitless meetings between the WICB and Gayle’s camp until the player’s cry to CARICOM was heeded by the regional body. The result was a resolution of sorts with both sides expressing regret for their actions, thus paving the way for Gayle’s “active return to
West Indies cricket, subject to all necessary fitness considerations”. In an effort to arrive at this amicable settlement Gayle, rather selflessly, gave up his T20 contract with English county Somerset, while the WICB agreed to make an exception to the rule that requires a player to appear in the regional tournament if he is to be eligible for the West Indies in the corresponding international format. This clears the way for Gayle to be selected to the T20 World Cup squad even though he chose to ply his trade with his Big Bash team Down Under rather than represent Jamaica in the Caribbean T20.
That should have been the end of the saga; however, the parties are scheduled to meet again to deal with a few “outstanding residual matters”. One suspects that chief among these matters is the multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the WICB as it relates to unconditional No Objection Certificates (NOC) which would give players the freedom to choose when to make themselves available for the
West Indies. The WICB has asked Gayle to withdraw the suit “in the interest of the new beginning that we are in the course of establishing”. Gayle has however refused, pointing out that the lawsuit was started by the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and he (Gayle) “could not possibly contemplate withdrawing unilaterally from proceedings which affect the West Indies players as a whole”.
So, as it stands now fans hoping to see Gayle back in West Indian colours when the Indian Premier League (IPL) is over could have a very long wait on their hands. This writer does not see the WICB backing down from this one which puts Gayle in a bit of a tight spot. Does he want the World T20 so badly that he would abandon the WIPA cause? (The WICB would consider this an especially sweet blow in the ongoing battle with the players’ body). This writer believes Gayle has been keen all along to display the hitting skills which have made him the hottest commodity on the circuit in the World T20. How he handles the Board’s request will determine if he realizes that dream.