West Indies opening batsman Kieran Powell has resurfaced.
Or has he?
In a lengthy statement released by the 24-year-old Nevisian late this evening, he sought to explain his absence from regional and international cricket since the first Test against New Zealand in June last year.
Powell said he had a meeting with West Indies team manager Richie Richardson and then coach Otis Gibson at the Jamaica Pegasus last year where he requested to take a break from international cricket to deal with a personal issue.
“The conversation concluded with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson conveying their understanding and stating that they hoped that I would return to the West Indies squad as soon as I was available to do so. I had then relayed a detailed account of that same conversation, in writing, to my own management, so as to have made them aware of my actions.
“Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson went onto assure me that their next steps would include advising West Indies Board officials, including West Indies director of cricket, Richard Pybus, head of cricket operations, Roland Holder and the West Indies selection panel at the time, that I had made myself unavailable and that they would be advising the team media manager to put out a press release to announce my forthcoming absence from the team,” he said.
Powell said he also communicated his situation to then chairman of selectors Clyde Butts.
Powell said the next action he saw in relation to his request for leave of absence from the team, was when a media release from the West Indies Cricket Board stated that he and Marlon Samuels had been dropped from the team. This, he added, despite the fact that he had asked for time off for a personal reason days before that release had reached the media.
“The next contact I received from anyone within the West Indies management structure, thereafter, was from Mr. Gibson in the first week of July, to check on my well-being. He then contacted me again in the last week of July – again, to check on my well-being. No mention of my return to cricket was discussed in either phone call. Mr. Richardson had also contacted my father and my manager on several occasions regarding me,” Powell said.
Powell said he later contacted WICB president Dave Cameron at his request.
“During my initial conversation with Mr. Cameron, he stated that he had not been made aware by anyone in the board or team management, of the circumstances surrounding my leave of absence from the West Indies team. This obviously bewildered me as I knew that not only had I had a meeting with the manager and the then coach of the West Indies team on the 12th of June, but I had also had a chat with the chairman of selectors that same evening, following the announcement of my decision.
“Mr. Cameron went on to agree that the Board had a duty of care towards me as a player and that he did not feel due process had been followed. During my conversation with Mr. Cameron, I made it clear that not only had I had a meeting with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Gibson on the 12th of June outlining my circumstances and my request for leave of absence, but that I had also seemingly received their support on the matter at the time,” he said.
Powell said he had a change of position with respect to taking a period away from the game and made himself available for the tour of India
“By this time, because I was frequently being inquired about and contacted by Board officials and team management, I revisited my position and made the decision to make myself available for the West Indies’ tour of India in September. I spoke with current coach Stuart Williams, on the 11th of September regarding returning to the international team. The conversation was positive and Mr Williams asked that I take the relevant measures to ensure my re-admission into the team. I then contacted the now chairman of selectors, Mr. Clive Lloyd, as well as Mr. Cameron and Mr. Pybus.
“During my conversation with Mr. Cameron, I communicated my wishes to make myself available for international cricketing duties again. This time there was an awkward hesitancy throughout the conversation – less than four weeks after our initial conversation where he had been extremely encouraging about my return to international duty. He stated during our conversation that I had not been practicing, which was assumed on his part. He then asked me to contact Mr. Pybus, which I immediately did,” Powell said.
The tall, left-handed batsman said Pybus said he had tried contacting him but without success. Powell said Pybus accused him of walking off the job. He noted Pybus also insisted he write a letter to him outlining his plans to return to cricket, and also pressed him to divulge details of his personal issue.
“He then went on to imply, in my opinion, that my future position in the squad would be compromised if I was not willing to disclose this information, which I felt was coercive, intrusive and unjust. He went on to suggest that I return to grassroots level cricket, in my bid to make a comeback. In my mind, I immediately compared this to other situations in the recent past, in which senior players in the West Indies team, had not been expected to follow same protocol and I wondered: ‘why me?’,” Powell said.
Powell said he subsequently spoke to the selectors and made himself available for the West Indies A team tour of Sri Lanka last year. He added he got no firm response.
“Feeling deflated and confused by several months of roller coaster events, I made a firm decision to take a step away from the game in its entirety, to reflect and refresh,” Powell said.
He concluded his statement by once again indicating that he was taking a break from the game.
“I would like to categorically, state on record that I am doing well and remain focused but that I am taking time away from the game. While I appreciate the support and loyalty I have received from people around the world, I would like to use this opportunity to ask that the media and the public respect my right to privacy and I look forward to returning to international cricket and to the game I love so dearly, in the near future,” he said.
Powell has enjoyed a very moderate career so far scoring 1 072 runs in 21 Tests at the paltry average of 27.48 with three centuries, two against Bangladesh.