Gayle, Bravo, Pollard – Why Windies’ Stars Will Skip India Series
11 of the 13 players listed above will take the field against India in Friday’s series opener at Port of Spain. No, this isn't a West Indies A squad, neither is Friday, 23 June, a practise game.
Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine are all indeed fit and available. But, the long-standing contractual disputes between the West Indies’ cricket board and its players ensures they will not be taking the field against India.
Based on a new policy, Cricket West Indies (CWI) only select players for international outings if they have played a domestic tournament in the same format. While most stars do play the T20 Caribbean Premier League and are thus available for selection in the shortest format, one-day and Test formats domestic tournaments clash with leagues across the world – much more lucrative leagues.
The choice will be a tough one to make. However, now with the board refusing to pull back its stringent rules, the India vs West Indies series will see these big names missing from the home team line up.
1. Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle has not played an ODI since the 2015 World Cup quarter-final match against New Zealand. The differences between the West Indies Cricket Board and Gayle have cost the Caribbean side dearly.
Gayle, who has scored over 9,000 runs in ODIs, is regularly seen in domestic T20 leagues such as the Indian Premier League and Pakistan Super League.
However, Gayle has seemed to have lost his touch in the recent tournaments. The hard-hitting left-hand batsman managed a mere 263 runs in 14 matches in the PSL and even in the IPL, he notched just 200 runs in 9 matches.
Karachi Kings, the team which Gayle plays for in the PSL, finished third out of five teams in the standings this year and in the IPL, his team, Royal Challengers Bangalore finished last.
Last ODI played - vs New Zealand, 2015; ODI Matches - 269; Runs - 9,221; Batting Average - 37.33.
2. Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine has had a remarkable ODI career since his debut in 2011. He has picked up 92 wickets in 65 matches at an bowling average of 26.46. But he hasn’t played a ODI since October 2016.
However, Narine has been playing T20s for West Indies. He has picked up eight wickets in the last 7 T20s.
The off-spinner performed well in the Pakistan Super League and Big Bash League this year, picking up 10 and 13 wickets from eight matches in each of the leagues.
But in the IPL, Narine notched just 10 wickets from 16 matches.
Although in the IPL, Narine gave excellent starts as an opening batsman. He scored 224 runs in 16 matches. He also equalled Yusuf Pathan's record of the fastest IPL fifty (15 balls) in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Last ODI played - vs Pakistan, 2016; ODI Matches - 65; Wickets - 92; Bowling Average - 26.46.
3. Dwayne Bravo
Dwayne Bravo was last seen playing a one-day international in his maroon national jersey on 17 October 2014. The venue was Dharamsala, and what followed was the entire West Indies team walking out of the tour of India due to a contractual dispute with the home board. Since then, Bravo has not been selected in a Test or one-day international because he does not play the domestic one-day or five-day format events.
While in 2015, he did give up half his Big Bash League contract to play the West Indies’ local 50-over format, Bravo was still not selected for the ICC World Cup, a setback that he claims he subject himself to again.
I am not going to give up the contracts that I have around the world to come back and play in the domestic tournament. I did it already and I got burned. I gave up half of my contract in BBL in 2015 to come and play and make myself eligible for selection for the World Cup and the Sri Lanka tour, but I was not selected.Dwayne Bravo to ESPNCricinfo
In T20s though, he has been a regular feature, last playing the away series against Pakistan in September 2016 after which he picked up an injury during the Australian Big Bash League. He missed the Pakistan Super League earlier this year and did join the Gujarat Lions’ IPL franchise but left midway to continue his rehab without playing a match.
Last ODI played - vs India, 2014; ODI Matches - 164; Runs - 2968; Wickets - 199
4. Kieron Pollard
Kieron Pollard did not feature in West Indies’ last one-day outing, a 2-1 series defeat to Pakistan earlier this summer. Primarily because he chose to play the IPL, and also because he has not played the domestic tournament of the same format.
Another matter of concern is the fact that West Indies are still out of the top 8 in the world ICC rankings. While their poor ranking led to the team missing out on June’s Champions Trophy, if the current status quo continues, West Indies may miss the cut-off mark for a direct entry into the 2019 World Cup.
Getting Kieron Pollard back in the fray may be key to turning things around. With 50 wickets and 2,000 runs in the format, Pollard last played an ODI for West Indies in October 2016 and among the “rebelling stars” is the only one seen keen to tread within the lines.
Last ODI played - vs Pakistan, 2016; ODI Matches - 101; Runs - 2289; Wickets - 50
5. Shannon Gabriel
No contract dispute here but West Indies’ premier fast bowler Shannon Gabriel will sit out of the series to recuperate from an injury that saw him out of the recently concluded (and drawn) T20 series against Afghanistan.
A regular among the wickets, including a fifer in the Test series against Pakistan in April, 29-year-old Gabriel has now emerged as the team’s go-to pacer. In his absence, skipper Jason Holder will look to Ashley Nurse and Kesrick Williams to step up and find a way around India’s formidable batting order.
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