There are two clear ways to approach the Chris Gayle/West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) situation. One is to judge him based on his apparent preference to make money playing for franchises rather than represent the country he once captained. However, the other less popular stance is to see him as a banished pariah who has finally taken a stand against a system that is beyond reproach. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between, but given that option one has been given so much airplay, I want to discuss in detail the merits of the latter.
I guess the idea for this article first germinated in my skull when I saw Gayle cheer on and then embrace his former teammates at Sabina Park in a game against India. It was clear then that whilst Gayle was certainly having a dig at the administrators, he was also still passionate about his team, as were his teammates upon noticing him being there. Since then Gayle has been plying his trade for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and will soon travel to Australia to play in the Big Bash League. Meanwhile, his national teammates are playing a series in Bangladesh, which may sound inconsequential, but actually pits seventh against ninth in the ICC rankings. As such, it is quite an important series.
So, with this firmly in the back of my brain, I was shocked into action today when I read the following headline on Cricinfo: ‘Gayle to be considered if he retracts statements’. The following is an excerpt from the first paragraph:
Chris Gayle will only be considered for selection for the West Indies if he retracts statement he has made about the West Indies board and its officers
Now, the last time I heard about a player not getting picked because he hadn’t said ‘sorry’ was in the schoolyard! What a joke! The only conclusion to draw from this absurd situation is that the WICB is so offended that they’d prefer their team to not have it’s best player who is quite possibly at the peak of his considerable powers.
Clive Lloyd, the director of the WICB, has at least commented that he believes Gayle can still ‘contribute meaningfully’ to the team, but only if he retracts his criticisms of the Board. I think anyone who has seen Gayle in action of late could probably attest to the fact that Gayle could contribute a damn site more than just ‘meaningfully’. As such, the WICB are biting off their nose despite their face, particularly given anyone with half a brain would criticise the WICB. I mean you would hardly call them the envy of all cricketing boards. They serve up rotten stadiums with unplayable pitches and seem to provoke player strikes every second year. So, if a player who has been treated like dirt by his own board choses to speak out, what do they do? Tell him he can’t play until he grovels on his knees. Now that’s leadership.
While it may appear otherwise, I don’t want to seem that I am completely on Gayle’s side. I do think that he probably likes the easy money of T20 a bit too much. However, I think that his penchant for ease is based on a situation with his national side that is simply too hard, and as such, until the WICB change their attitude I’ll be happy to woop and scream when he’s smashing sixes in the Big Bash this summer.
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