The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has hit back at accusations by West Indies opening batsman Kieran Powell about mistreatment meted out to him by officials of the sport’s regional governing body.
About two-weeks ago the 24-year-old Nevisian went on a self-imposed exile for the second occasion, citing his disappointment over the WICB’s handling of the issue of his request for leave from the West Indies team last year. He also accused the WICB of going back on promises made to him.
Powell, who last played international cricket in June last year against New Zealand, claimed he had approached team manager Sir Richie Richardson and then coach Ottis Gibson, to be granted leave from international cricket. He said he contacted other board officials, giving them a full statement of his intentions in writing. Among the officials he said he contacted were West Indies director of cricket Richard Pybus and then chairman of selectors Clyde Butts.
Powell, who has had a very moderate career since his 2011 debut, said he was axed from the West Indies team after the Jamaica Test against New Zealand last year. He charged that this occurred even as he had asked for leave and added that WICB president Dave Cameron had contacted him and indicated that he was unaware of his request for leave. Powell also charged that Pybus had sought personal details on the reasons for his request for leave. Powell noted he had been accused of “walking off the job”.
But in a release today, the WICB stressed that at the time Powell requested a leave of absence in June he was a contracted employee of the WICB with certain contractual obligations. The statement noted that at no time was any officer of the WICB or team management furnished with the details of Powell’s personal issues.
“WICB officers repeatedly attempted to contact Mr Powell via his personal phone and email following his departure from the team. To date Mr Powell has not furnished the WICB with personal contact details,” the release stated.
The released added: “During the West Indies vs New Zealand Test Series, June 2014, Mr Powell communicated with the West Indies team management and requested a leave of absence from cricket for personal reasons. After Mr Powell left the team, neither the then head coach nor the team manager could contact him on his direct telephone number for an extended period. After the conclusion of the Test series, in late July 2014, when the then head coach and team manager managed to speak to Mr Powell [via third party phone] they offered support. This offer was turned down by Mr Powell.”
The WICB noted that last August Pybus, via email and phone, attempted to contact Powell to offer support with his personal issues. This too failed.
“Mr Pybus was keen understanding from Mr Powell a valid reason for his prolonged absence from work and had wanted to offer support to him on his path back into cricket. Further the director of cricket had wanted to propose that he draft a plan for his return to cricket that the WICB could support him with. Mr Powell spoke with the WICB president, Mr Dave Cameron, on August 22nd and indicated that he would only return to the game in 2015,” the release indicated.
While giving a timeline of events, the WICB said that Pybus spoke with Powell on September 11 and offered support to assist him in finding resolution to his personal issues. He was also informed of the ramifications of not providing documentation for his leave of absence from work for such an extended period of time.
However, the WICB noted it continued to make monthly retainer contract payments to Powell despite the fact that the WICB could not initiate contact with him for almost two month period of June and July, 2014.
The release noted that Pybus categorically rejected Powell’s assertion that he coerced him into divulging the details of his personal matters.
“Contrary to Mr Powell’s repeated assertion, at no time did the WICB issue any media release or any other communication stating that Mr Powell was “axed” from the West Indies Team. In all communication with the media and public the WICB consistently respected Mr Powell’s request to treat his matters as private.
“The selection panel, as is the practice, contacted Mr Powell prior to the commencement of the tour of India to understand the state of affairs from his perspective. The selectors, too, attempted to reach out and support Mr Powell,” the WICB stated.
Responding to statements from Powell that he had called the selectors and advised them of his availability last year prior to the ill-fated India tour, the WICB stressed that selection to the West Indies team was not a right or entitlement of any player and was at the discretion of the independent selection panel and based on predetermined and widely publicized selection criteria.