It is also a blatant misuse of power as the cricket authorities continue to punish Mr Gayle for uttering adverse public comments earlier this year on a radio interview and consequently deprive him from representing his country and making an honest living.
How can these actions be legal? Is the West Indies Cricket Board subject to any legal authority in the Caribbean? They have lost so many cases to the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) and still go back to their offices and do the same thing over and over again without facing any consequences.
The question also begs to be asked if the cricket authorities aren’t guilty of the same wrong when some of their key officials also went on public radio and gave interviews in which they made negative comments about players like Messrs Chanderpaul and Gayle. These actions were led by their St Lucian CEO Ernest Hilaire who commented negatively in the media on more than one occasion on Mr Gayle’s presence in the team.
Also, influential board member Sir Hilary Beckles compared Gayle to one of the drug-pushing Jamaican dons and also described him as being ‘antagonistic and unrepentant’. The cop-out that he was speaking in his personal capacity was used to exonerate Mr Beckles. Well, wasn’t Gayle speaking in his personal capacity as well?
Mr Gayle has so far given 10 years of his life to representing the West Indies during which time he played in 338 games which comprises of 91 Tests, 228 ODIs and 20 T20s. At the crease he batted 402 times for the region and scored 15,077 runs while being the top-scorer in several innings.
Which one of the West Indies board members or coaching staff can match this consistency and quality of service at the administrative level? The fact that St Lucia has only produced one Test cricketer so far, after all these years, really exposes the quality of the cricketing background of the current president and CEO who are from that island, and the dysfunctionality of the administrative systems of WI cricket.
Who are these men accountable to? What really is their issue with Gayle? Do they have the moral authority to discipline Gayle? Is this in fact an anti-Jamaican campaign? This question begs to be asked because Marlon Samuels was also implicated in the ‘don’ comments.
The WICB may be inspired to make adjustments to their pettiness, vindictiveness and immaturity by taking a leaf out of the book of the Zimbabwe cricket authorities who, on the eve of their team’s return to Test cricket on August 3 this year, were severely criticised on radio by wicketkeeper/batsman Tatenda Taibu.
Cricinfo writer Firdose Moonda reported that “Taibu might have been thought to be at risk of being dropped from the squad after pointing a finger at the lack of professionalism and funds in the set-up, but instead Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have said they will address Taibu’s concerns.”
“In any other country, a senior player could expect significant sanction from his board for such a public outburst,” the ZC managing director Ovais Bvute and chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said in a joint statement in response to ESPNcricinfo’s article. “But we see little point in doing that and wish him the very best in the Test match. He is one of our finest cricketers.”
They later sat down with him and settled their differences, keeping in mind the value he brought to the team.
The WICB’s mode of ‘keeping the players in their place’ smacks of an outdated plantation management style. Empowered modern-day players starting from the likes of Desmond Haynes, Brian Lara, etc leading up to current guys like Pollard, Bravo and Gayle clearly understand their financial worth and are very sensitive to their ‘shelf-lives’ as sportsmen.
Backward-thinking sports administrators like the dinosaurs who are currently sitting inside of the WICB are clearly hindered by outdated concepts of what it means to have pride and putting country first, hence the hindrances to NOCs in some cases.
It is wickedness when a player like Darren Sammy is profiled by these out-of-touch board members and administrators as being a more committed and proud player than Chris Gayle simply because Darren is not playing T20 in the IPL and other leagues around the world and Chris Gayle is. For goodness sake, if all the WI players were available in the morning, many of the current guys in the West Indies 11 will not even make the A team!
Furthermore, Sammy and his like are not playing in the IPL simply because they have never got the opportunity to do so and in some cases will never, ever be offered such contracts. Sammy and players at his level have no other option but to play for the West Indies with ‘commitment and pride’. Yeah, right!
Somebody needs to take the bull by the horn. The current structure of regional cricket and those who lead are clearly obsolete, out of touch, lacking the thinking systems, skills-set and understanding of the ways of the modern industry of the sporting world.
They are unable to effectively administrate empowered players from an economically deprived region like the Caribbean who are having to balance playing for the West Indies with the many economic opportunities being made available to them from various parts of the world. If there is no change, Chris Gayle will continue to suffer hurt and the public will be deprived of his big-hitting exploits in West Indian colours.
The real questions are how many more cricketers must go the way of Chris Gayle before change occurs and ultimately, who will bell the cat? My unreserved recommendation is for the Jamaican authorities to ‘go on strike’ and pull out of all co-operation with the WICB until the persons responsible for this wicked treatment of one of the favourite cricketers of the WI are brought to answer some serious questions.
Such a stand will have significant implications and has the potential to be a catalyst in the structure of West Indies cricket. By the way, I am Trinidadian… just in case.