THE SELECTION of West Indies cricket teams, regardless of whatever type of tournament they are involved in, is always of tremendous interest to supporters, cricketers, administrators and all those with a keen interest in international cricket and the players who participate.
The 15 players chosen to represent the WI in the T20 World Cup starting on October 16, a year late because of the pandemic, make up an interesting variety. And there is talk about experienced players who have been left out.
In my opinion, the level of commitment necessary to represent WI in an international tournament cannot be overestimated. But some West Indian cricketers, more than any other internationals, seem to treat representing the WI as if it’s just another franchise.
I don’t get that impression from other countries’ cricketers. They appear to be committed to their country first and foremost, and franchise cricket afterwards.
For instance, take the case of Andre Russell. The hard-hitting Jamaica right-handed batsman is a powerful player who bowls a steady medium pace, plus he’s a brilliant fieldsman and possesses a tremendous throw.
Nevertheless, the 34-year-old has been injury-prone over the years and he is currently uncertain in his movements on the field. Maybe it is because of his injuries, but he is “over the hill” for international cricket as far as I’m concerned.
Russell said last week that he was more focused on representing the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) than on earning a recall to the WI squad, although it is reported that he told Sky Sports last month he still had aspirations to win another World Cup for his side (sounds like a franchise, doesn’t it?).
Then there’s Sunil Narine. He has been no-balled a few times for throwing. He worked very hard on his action, practising the art under expert supervision for hours a day. With all the nervousness involved and difficult passages to navigate, he gradually approached it with caution, until, with much relief, he had been passed as having a fair action.
At this time, he only trusted himself in T20 cricket, for the simple and obvious reason that he would only have four overs to bowl in an innings. He knew, therefore, that with short spells of concentration, his action would soon be passed.
However, he is wary of international umpires overseeing games at international level and not giving any leeway. Moreover, he made himself unavailable for the various formats of competition that now exist: Test cricket and One-Day-Internationals for instance, the latter requiring a minimum of ten overs per bowler and the other a limitless number.
Meanwhile, he has been enjoying himself in franchise cricket, which does not impose the same burden on the cricketer as international games. Franchise cricket is an explosive affair to entertain those who fancy a party, plus attract businesses to advertise their products.
Fabian Allen's father has sadly passed away; this is no reason to cite “personal reasons” for being unavailable. Everyone will accept one’s unavailability owing to a death in the family. I offer my condolences to Fabian and his entire family.
What I need to know, though, what were the “personal reasons” given by Fabian for his leaving the WI team in New Zealand on the 2020/21 tour to return home.
Too many players want to play for WI only when they feel like it. Well, it just cannot work that way. No one would have heard of them if the cricket authority in their country didn’t have the proper organisation in place to develop them as cricketers.
No one is saying that one cannot use their ability to do as they like and play for whichever franchise the player is invited to represent. That’s fine!
However, one cannot dictate to the relevant board in their home country only the tournaments they’re interested in, and expect that same board that invested time and money towards the cricketer’s betterment as a player to bow to their demands. It cannot work that way; the organisation will surely collapse.
Yet they’re always available to play in the franchise cricket leagues, of which there are more and more sprouting up, which will eventually kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
The very same cricket leagues and organised competitions that created the top-tier players that attract the franchises are the same ones to which the players owe their development, improvement and recognition.