DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Discarded two-time Twenty20 World Cup-winning captain, Darren Sammy, has blamed West Indies’ recent travails in the one-day format on the controversial eligibility rule which has robbed the Caribbean side of its senior players.
Sammy, also the former Test and one-day captain, said the leading players were now being forced to choose between international cricket or lucrative T20 domestic leagues across the globe, and this had resulted in a fallout for West Indies.
“Now players can see it’s not all about international cricket. When I grew up, the goal was to play for the West Indies and then maybe play county or league cricket in England,” said Sammy, who will serve as a pundit for OSN Television during the Champions Trophy starting Thursday in England.
“But now, if you don’t get into the Indian Premier League, you can get in the Bangladesh Premier League or the Pakistan Super League or the NatWest T20. South Africa and Afghanistan now have one, there’s also the Big Bash in Australia. There are so many opportunities to make a living.
“You’ve seen it happen in football, there is room for club and country, but when you try to enforce one on the other, that’s where I think problems arise.”
The West Indies Cricket Board has mandated that all players must make themselves available for the requisite domestic tournament in order to be eligible for selection to the international side in that format.
With the Australia Big Bash usually clashing with the WICB’s Regional Super50 one-day tournament, the leading Caribbean players have opted to play their trade in the lucrative T20 tournament Down Under.
As a result, the likes of prolific opener Chris Gayle and all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, have not played an ODI in almost three years.
Sammy, discarded last year just months after leading West Indies to an historic second T20 World Cup title, said domestic cricket authorities needed to re-think their approach to player management.
“Cricket is changing. In this day of age, cricketers understand that they are the product and now boards can’t just boss them around anymore. It’s a different age, a different era,” he warned.
“You only have to look at what’s happening in Australia [with the dispute between players and the board].”
West Indies missed out on the upcoming Champions Trophy for the first time in their history, after failing to qualify because of their ninth place ranking at the cut-off date of September 30, two years ago.
Two-time winners of the 50-overs World Cup in 1975 and 1979, the Windies are also now in danger of not achieving automatic qualification for the 2019 tournament in England.
Hosts England and the remaining top seven teams in the rankings qualify automatically at the September 30 cut off date this year, with the remaining two spots at the event to be determined by a qualifier.
The 33-year-old Sammy, who played 126 ODIs, said he feared for the future of the Windies one-day side especially with the experienced players missing.
“I just wish the youngsters all the best because it’s a tough job to go out there and play knowing you don’t have your senior players there with you,” he noted.
“We have to be optimistic. We have some very talented youngsters and even though we don’t have our senior men in the team, the youngsters have shown that with more experience they can move forward, but the player-board relationship has to be good as well.”