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I was most elated when there was a much-needed change in the personnel with the responsibility of managing West Indies cricket. I was just as elated when the bold move was made to sack the selection panel headed by a Barbadian gentleman who most times seemed preoccupied with ensuring that his countrymen dominated West Indies selection despite repeated failures.
I was convinced when Hunte and company had ascended to the leadership, prior to the previous administration, that they were more interested in getting Windward and Leeward Island cricketers into the West Indies team rather than the general development of West Indies cricket. Time proved me to be right and in 2021 they are still producing below average batsmen having been brought up on featherbeds to make runs for WI selection.
It was therefore a breath of fresh air when Mr. Roger Harper was appointed to head the selection panel and like most West Indians, we expected a transparent process with merited selection based on a selection policy. It is disappointing to say the least that based on their performance there is either no selection policy or they are selective in implementing whatever policy there is to suit certain players.
If one is to use the utterances of the chief selector, passing a fitness test is a prerequisite for selection, and I will assume performance will naturally be the other. But on the last two occasions, particularly in the selection of the 2021T20 World Cup team, neither of these two policies were implemented in a transparent manner.
While I am in total agreement of the need for fitness to be a criterion along with other cricket requirements to be selected on the West Indies team, it was a reasonable expectation of all sensible individuals, irrespective from which ever country you come from, that the “fitness policy” would have been applicable to all the players without exception.
Hence, when Hetmyer and Chase among others were deemed unfit I had no problem if in fact they did not meet the fitness levels, but it is totally ridiculous to grant exemptions to others to facilitate their selection, knowing fully well that those denied selection were fitter than those exempted. Cornwall and Gabriel readily come to mind with the latter confirming this fact within the first two hours of a match.
It was quite clear then, that this selection panel had serious credibility issues and the aloofness and arrogance displayed while justifying these glaring irregularities was distasteful and objectionable. And true to form they escalated their disrespect with the recent selection of their “pensioner team” to represent West Indies at the 2021 T20 World Cup.
There was consternation from almost every quarter in the West Indies regarding this team selection, except for a certain gentleman in Barbados who was a dismal failure as a cricketer and was challenged to understand his identity. It will not be illogical if one was to conclude that these gentlemen are either caught in a time warp or have total disrespect for the intelligence of the West Indies cricketing public.
The selection of Chris Gayle who scored 165 runs at an average of 18.33 with a highest score of 42 ahead of Sherfane Rutherford who scored 262 runs at an average of 37.42 including three half centuries is ludicrous. And to add insult to injury, Rutherford’s fielding and movement in the field was 80 percent better than Chris Gayle. It must be concluded that the “new non selection justification” of fitness is really an attempt to insult the intelligence of the West Indian public.
The same can be said of the 36-year-old overweight and obviously unfit Ravi Rampaul with 19 wickets at an average of 7.97 and scoring 6 runs, being selected ahead of Romario Shepherd, with 18 wickets at 7.70 and scoring 108 runs averaging 21.08 with the bat and a highest score of 72 not out. Even the President of the Trinidad and Tobago cricket Board shared that view not to mention heads of governments and former West Indian greats.
And what about the nonsensical “X Factor” justification of selecting Oshane Thomas who his captain could not risk playing because of his erratic bowling and indication of brainless bowling when hit for a boundary or two. Thomas who got 6 wickets at an average of 7.39 was selected ahead of the fastest bowler and a real “X Factor” in CPL 202, Odean Smith, who bagged 18 wickets at an average of 7.58 and scored 126 runs with a batting average of 18.0. Rampaul’s fielding and batting is ninety nine percent below that of both Shepherd and Smith.
And I dare say, that if DM Bravo whose CPL 2021 average of 16.33, scoring 98 runs with a top score of 25 is the best reserve player we have in the West Indies, something is seriously wrong with the thought process of these selectors or it is another revelation of the competence of these gentlemen.
Let me hasten to point out that Rampaul was selected based on his performance at CPL 2021, but this criterion was obviously not used for the selection of other members of the team because there is no way Gayle, Thomas and DM Bravo should be in the team ahead Ruherford, Shepherd and Smith. And let me hasten to add the highest level of disrespect to the number one allrounder in the world Jason Holder being relegated to the status of reserve.
I do not want to suggest that these selectors are either mentally challenged or are making selection decisions based on instructions from senior management of the WICB or for some other unknown reason, but what me, and ninety percent of the West Indian public know, is that their selection of this “pensioners” West Indies team for the 2021 T20 World cup does not reflect favourably on their ability to be fair, logical and objective in the discharge of their responsibilities.
And it is not being smart for a selector to drop a 24-year-old cricketer for being unfit and then in the same breath exempt two (2) older players from the same level of fitness requirement and select them on the same team. And how fit is DJ Bravo when he did not bowl in a few matches prior to the finals and which we all see and know was due to injury worry. What confounded nonsense is that? You are either fit or you are not fit. It does not matter if you have one million runs. It is a farce that is repugnant and unacceptable.
And since the chief selector, who apparently has a penchant for justifying non selection based on some “fitness” policy apparently only applicable to some players, then it is necessary that the “so
called” policy is communicated. If not, save the explanations because it certainly does not endear you to the public to whom your explanations are targeted and only serves to infuriate cricket loving citizens across the region.
It is not difficult to conclude that the performance of this selection panel makes the former panel that they replaced look like experts; and trust me, they were not considered highly by any means.
Be assured that the young cricketers and the West Indies and the cricketing public do not think highly of you based on your tendency to be consistently inconsistent and I will support any young cricketer one hundred percent if they should seek to ply their trade on the T20 circuit worldwide.
By your actions, you are more of a hindrance and demotivator than an asset or positive influence to young aspiring West Indian cricketers. I do not know if you gentlemen is comfortable to leave such a legacy when you make your exit which most prefer to be sooner rather than later.
You will do West Indies cricket a great service by excusing yourself from the selection panel of West Indies cricket. Not only will you be respected for being honest in demonstrating what we all must conclude, that is you are unfit to hold the position, but you will spare us the disgust and aggravation which is currently overwhelming and which we can do without during this Covid 19 pandemic.
You should do the honourable thing and resign En-bloc.