Former West Indies manager Omar Khan said some of the “big name” players not in the West Indies squad for the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, is a clear indication there is still a rift between the players and Cricket West Indies (CWI).
CWI selected a 15-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers, on Thursday, with a number of top players missing. The quartet of Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell have chosen to play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which bowls off on February 22. The PSL clashes with the World Cup qualifiers which takes place from March 4 to 25.
The players and CWI have had their battles since West Indies pulled out of an Indian tour in 2014, due to a payment dispute between the players, CWI and the West Indies Players Association.
Khan said he knows players have contracts in T20 leagues, but it is unfortunate CWI still can’t come to an understanding with the players. “It is sad that we have reached a situation where the players cannot come to some sort of agreement with the board in terms of representing the West Indies for these tournaments. But at the end of the day the players have their contracts and commitments to the leagues and if that is the case then so be it.”
Khan said a lot of dialogue is clearly still needed between the players and CWI. “I think there is still that situation where the communication and the relationship between players and the board is not where it is supposed to be. There is a big gap in the relationship and I am hoping that proper, genuine, meaningful dialogue between both parties (can happen) as we go forward (to) try and solve those issues.”
However, Khan believes the team selected is strong enough to qualify for the World Cup. Khan said, “Yes (the team is strong enough). I think it is a great opportunity for the players to go there and show that they are ready to represent West Indies.”
Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray also believes the team has what it takes to qualify for the World Cup.
Gray said, “I think we have good talent in the team and I think obviously the selectors have done a good enough job because of the experience and talent that is available to us. I think it is a fair enough squad, but obviously on the days you will have to perform.”
Gray said the performance of the West Indies batting will depend on the trio of Chris Gayle, Shai Hope and Marlon Samuels, but the younger batsmen must contribute. Gray believes West Indies fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Kemar Roach need to make use of the new ball as early wickets are key.
West Indies will face Ireland, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the winners of the ICC World Cricket League Division Two.
Gray said West Indies must be professional against those teams. “Our mindset should be like if we are playing against South Africa or India, that is the mindset that we should have. There should be no room for complacency, no room for relaxation and you want players to be fully focused out there.”
Gray is not sure if the players accepting contracts in Pakistan is an indication that the players are not happy with CWI. Gray said, “I can’t comment on that because I don’t know how they feel.”
However, Gray said the quartet of Pollard, Narine, Bravo and Russell may be missed. “You want the best team available and definitely we will be weakened a bit with these guys going to Pakistan.”
West Indies Squad
Jason Holder (captain), Jason Mohammed (vice-captain), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Nikita Miller, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Kesrick Williams