ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Exiled left-handed batsman Darren Bravo is set to play for West Indies again “with immediate effect” after he and Cricket West Indies president Dave Cameron exchanged apologies to end a nine-month impasse.
In a statement Thursday, Cricket West Indies said the 28-year-old player would be “available with immediate effect to play in all forms of cricket.” Bravo had his match-tour contract cancelled and was sent home ahead of the Tri-Nation Series in Zimbabwe last November for labelling Cameron “a big idiot” in a controversial tweet.
Cameron said Bravo was a “valuable part” of the West Indies side and had intended “no insult or offence” when he gave an interview last year appearing to criticise Bravo over his lack of form.
“In early November 2016, I gave an interview to SportsMax TV during which I discussed player retainer contracts and the grades of contract that had been awarded to certain players,” Cameron said in the statement.
“In the course of the interview I stated that Darren Bravo had previously been on an ‘A’ contract, which I have since been advised is not correct. I apologise for the misstatement and wish to assure Mr Bravo that there was no insult or offence intended towards him.
“Darren is a senior cricketer who has been a valuable part of the Windies set up for a long time, and I would hope to see his game continue to progress and mature, at both regional and international level.”
Bravo, the region’s leading Test batsman with an average of 40 from 49 Tests, said his reaction to Cameron’s comments in the media interview had been “inappropriate” and had now removed the offending tweet from his Twitter account.
“On the 11th day of November 2016, after viewing statements made about me by Mr Dave Cameron, President of the Cricket West Indies, on a television sports programme, I tweeted a response which referred to the President which was, in retrospect, inappropriate,” Bravo said.
“As I have always tried to uphold the best traditions of West Indies Cricket and its players, I now, therefore, wish to withdraw the comment made on my Twitter account and apologise to the President of CWI and to all Windies fans.
“I look forward to continuing to play a positive role in both the West Indies’ senior men’s team and regional cricket, as well as helping to grow and develop cricket in the region at all levels.”
Bravo had also earlier this year initiated legal action against CWI over the matter but the release did not state whether this had been withdrawn.
The controversy erupted after CWI announced that Bravo had declined a retainer contract for the period up to September 30, 2017, with news subsequently emerging that the player had rejected a Grade C contract – a downgrade from his previous retainer.
In the media interview, Cameron said Bravo’s performances had not merited an enhanced contract.
“His averages in the last two years have been declining, so what do you do? Reward poor performance or do you encourage him to get better?” Cameron was quoted as saying.
“If you continue to keep giving him an A contract then what is the motivation to get better? He has been on an A contract and he hasn’t done well.”
In response, Bravo lashed out angrily on Twitter, tagging Cameron in a tweet which said: “You hav[e] been failing 4 d last 4yrs. Y don’t u resign and FYI I’ve neva been given an A contract. Big idiot.”
CWI slammed Bravo’s actions as “disparaging” to Cameron and demanded he apologise and remove the tweet. The player complied with neither.
Bravo since then has been barred from selection and also from playing for his native Trinidad and Tobago.
Only recently, Cameron said Bravo would remain sidelined until the tweet was removed.
West Indies are expected to tour England next month for three Tests with a squad announcement expected this week but Bravo last month indicated his unavailability because of commitments in the Caribbean Premier League.
Meanwhile, several senior players could soon be returning to the West Indies fold after not being considered previously because of the eligibility rule. These players have largely been unavailable to West Indies cricket due to participation in global T20 tournaments.
Now, the key to a resolution has been Cricket West Indies abandoning its contentious policy regarding player availability for regional cricket. Whereas in recent years, CWI policy dictated that players would only be eligible for West Indies selection if they had played in the corresponding format in regional cricket, the board is now in the process of softening that hard line stance.
It is anticipated it will be formally relaxed when the new round of central contracts are introduced in October, with a new range of white-ball contracts also adding to the players’ security and flexibility.
Both Jimmy Adams, director of cricket, and Johnny Grave, CWI CEO, have previously intimated their desire to change the policy, with Adams labelling it “unsustainable”.
In the meantime, though, an amnesty has been proposed to those who have not been involved in regional cricket, giving them the chance to represent West Indies again. The likes of Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and, once his WADA ban is served, Andre Russell could be the beneficiaries.
While the amnesty has yet to be ratified by the board of CWI, it is understood that a conference call will take place before the end of the week where it is hoped the proposal will be accepted.