KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC — St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Tuesday called on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to reverse its decision to axe three senior players, including former captain Dwayne Bravo, from the West Indies One Day International (ODI) squad.
In a two-page letter to WICB President Dave Cameron and copied to regional leaders as well as the President of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), Wavell Hinds, Gonsalves said the WICB had given an undertaking that the players would not be victimized following the controversial tour of India earlier this year.
Gonsalves reminded Cameron of the meeting held in Trinidad and Tobago to resolve the issues surrounding the aborted tour of India and the “solemn undertaking by the WICB” that the selection of the teams (Test, One Day, T-20) for the imminent tour of South Africa would be done on merit from the available pool of players, including the “India 14”.
“Your solemn undertaking was honoured by the WICB in the selection of the test team for South Africa. But it is evident to all objective observers that the WICB has dishonoured that undertaking in respect of the recently announced touring party for the One-Day International series in South Africa,” Gonsalves wrote in the letter that was also copied to Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne, the players representatives and CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque.
Cameron said earlier this week that the decision by the board to approve a recommendation for rookie fast bowler Jason Holder to be appointed new one-day captain was unanimous.
WICB selectors, chaired by Clive Lloyd, recommended the 23-year-old Barbados pacer as captain of the ODI squad ahead of the five-match series against South Africa and just two months before the ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Holder takes over the reins of team from seasoned all-rounder Bravo who has been sacked after just 19 months in charge and also dropped from the 15-man squad named to face the South Africans.
“I don’t have anything to say. I think you should speak to the selectors,” said Cameron.
“I don’t pick the team … You will have talk to the selectors and they will give you their philosophy on why they picked the team. It is not for the president to talk about”.
Holder has played one Test and 21 One-Day Internationals since making his international debut in February last year.
In his letter, which was released to the media, Prime Minister Gonsalves said the “preemptory removal” of Bravo from the captaincy and the non selection of Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy “reeks of village vengeance, discrimination and victimisation”.
Sammy has since been recalled to the team, but Gonsalves said “it is inconceivable that on the cusp of the World Cup, such a decision of folly could have been made or embraced.
“Since the decision glaringly lacks cricketing merit, reasonable persons are left to conclude that there is more in “the mortar beside the pestle”.
“There are those who may ask instinctively ‘What does a politician or Prime Minister Gonsalves know about cricket? The simple response is that cricketing decisions, such as the one of which I complain, are not akin to advanced nuclear physics, these decisions are not so abstract or esoteric as to be beyond the comprehension of normal mortals.
“Ordinary persons up and down our Caribbean know that the decision to drop Messrs Bravo, Pollard and Sammy from the ODI squad is plainly wrong, the casting aside of Mr. Bravo as our ODI captain is a travesty of justice,” Gonsalves wrote.
Gonsalves said he is also aware that the “fig leaf excuse is trotted out by the administrators of West Indies cricket that the selection of the ODI team is done by selectors and not the WICB itself.
“The sensible answer to this formalistic doctrine is that there is not such a wall of separation between the WICB and the selectors as to amount to a suicide pact.
“At the end of the day you and the WICB are responsible for this farce which is injurious to West Indies cricket,” Gonsalves wrote, adding “this absurd decision relating to the ODI team is likely to make healing in the cricketing fraternity a forlorn hope”.
He told Cameron, parenthetically, it is unlikely to aid your cause with the BCCI (The Indian cricket Board) and its US$41.9 million claim”.
Gonsalves further told Cameron “it is not too late for you and the WICB to correct this egregious error in respect of Brave, Pollard and Sammy”, adding, “I urge you to initiate steps to effect a reasonable corrective.
“The days of men riding horses with cork hats across plantations are, metaphorically, over. The WICB must stop functioning as a virtual private club and be responsible and responsive to the people of the region,” Gonsalves added.