According to Gonsalves he had organised a meeting as CARICOM representative to resolve the impasse arising out of West Indies’ premature termination of the India tour. In addition to Cameron and himself, that meeting, held at the Hyatt Hotel in Trinidad on October 23, was attended by Bravo, West Indies Test captain Denesh Ramdin, Ralph Thorne, the players’ legal counsel, West Indies Players Association president Wavell Hinds, and WIPA lawyer.
In a sternly worded two-paged letter sent on December 23, Gonsalves said Cameron had agreed that teams for the South Africa tour would be picked on “merit”. Yet last week the West Indies selection panel, chaired by former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, appointed inexperienced 23-year-old fast bowler Jason Holder as the captain for the ODI side, indicating it was time to appoint a young leader.
“The meeting arrived at several conclusions or agreements. One of these was the solemn undertaking by the WICB, through you, that none of the “India 14″ would be victimised or discriminated against because of the tour’s premature termination,” Gonsalves said. “Specifically, you agreed that the election of the teams (Test, One-day, T-20) for the imminent tour of South Africa would be done on the merit from the available pool of player, 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 the undertaking in respect of the recently-announced touring party for the ODI series in South Africa.”
Although Lloyd explained the reasons to pick Holder, he did not specify why exactly Bravo, Pollard and Sammy were dropped. On Wednesday, without explaining any reasons, the WICB issued a media release stating Sammy had been included as the 15th member of the ODI squad for the South Africa series. Nor has Cameron or any of the WICB executive made any public comments.
According to Gonsalves, relieving Bravo from ODI captaincy and sacking him as a player amounted to “travesty of justice” and was unjust especially since it came so close to the World Cup. “The peremptory removal of Mr. Bravo from the captaincy of the One-Day team and the non-selection of Messrs Pollard, Sammy and Bravo himself, all members of the “India 14”, to that team reeks of village vengeance, discrimination, and victimisation. 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”.
Gonsalves also said that the WICB could not hide behind the “fig leaf excuse” that the decision to drop the players was taken by the selectors. “At the end of the day, you and the WICB are responsible for this farce which is injurious to West Indies cricket.
“It is not too late for you and the WICB to correct the egregious error in respect of Messrs Bravo, Pollard and Sammy. I urge that you 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.”