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Star players in line for ODI picks

Friday, July 14 2017

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THE BIGGEST names in Caribbean cricket could be about to return to the West Indies team after significant progress was made in negotiations between players and the board, according to a story on the Cricinfo website yesterday.

Not only has a resolution been agreed to the Darren Bravo impasse, but the likes of Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle are also available for selection for the ODI (One Day International) side after an amnesty was proposed by WIPA, the players’ union.

That means they could be available for the limited-overs section of the tour to England that starts in a few weeks.

Gayle, who marked his international return after 15 months during the one-off Twenty20 International against India in Kingston last week, said during an event in Bengaluru, India yesterday that “things have been steadily improving” and playing the 2019 World Cup, for which West Indies may have to qualify, is still a burning desire.

“The fans were happy to see me back on the field representing West Indies. Hopefully, things can get better. Hopefully I can play a few more games. I definitely want to play the 2019 World Cup,” Gayle said. “Things are beginning to open up a little more now between players and the board. It’s looking good, and we’ve to try and build from this to get the best players out on the field.” The key to the resolution has been Cricket West Indies abandoning its contentious policy regarding player availability for regional cricket. Whereas, in recent years, CWI policy dictated that players would only be eligible for West Indies selection if they had played in the corresponding format in regional cricket, the board is now in the process of softening that hardline stance.

It is anticipated it will be formally relaxed when the new round of central contracts are introduced in October, with a new range of white-ball contracts also adding to the players’ security and flexibility.

Both Jimmy Adams, Director Of Cricket, and Johnny Grave, CWI CEO, have previously intimated their desire to change the policy, with Adams labelling it “unsustainable”.

In the meantime, though, an amnesty has been proposed to those who have not been involved in regional cricket, giving them the chance to represent West Indies again. The likes of Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy and, once his WADA ban is served, Andre Russell could be other beneficiaries.

While the amnesty has yet to be ratified by the board of CWI, ESPNcricinfo understands a conference call will take place before the end of the week where it is hoped the proposal will be accepted.

It all amounts to encouraging news for long-suffering West Indies supporters. With the side having slipped to ninth in the ODI rankings (they are eighth in the Test rankings and fifth in T20), it is almost impossible for them to qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup ahead of the ODI rankings qualification cutoff date in September.

Former WI middle-order batsman, vice-captain and coach Augustine “Gus” Logie, when contacted, noted, “we saw in the T20 (against India last Sunday) what the experienced players can bring to the table.” He continued, “we understand the challenges that we face in the ever-increasing T20 format throughout the world and we know it was going to be a problem.

Players would obviously make the choice that would benefit them in the long run, as far as their careers are concerned.

“I think it was a compromise that had to be made and it was only inevitable that it would happen.

Better late than never.” Logie also hopes that this move will foster greater respect between both the players, in the regional circuit, and CWI.

Touching on the matter involving Darren Bravo, Logie stated, “at the end of the day, it’s nice to know that good sense has prevailed and everybody is working towards the same goal of reviving West Indies cricket.

“We need (the) established players to help with the young players on the team to help with the learning process going forward.

So I look forward to some excellent performances from (Bravo) in the future.”

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