Some of West Indies’ best-known players are claiming they were “denied the opportunity to help Caribbean people” by being omitted from the teams involved in the Hurricane Relief game at Lord’s.
The charity T20 match between West Indies and a World XI is being staged on May 31 to raise funds to repair five major cricket venues damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. West Indies named a 13-man squad last week and it did feature some big names – Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels – but Dwayne Bravo insisted he, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo had all hoped to be involved as well. None of them was picked.
“We were denied the opportunity to be a part of something to help Caribbean people in a charity game we wanted to play in and were looking forward to being a part of”, Bravo told ESPNcricinfo. “We weren’t contacted or selected, so we just want people to know that we were fully available for the game and are seeking answers behind our non-selection.”
This led former West Indies captain Darren Sammy to suggest Cricket West Indies has missed an opportunity to build bridges between itself and the players.
“What better chance could the board want to engage players?” Sammy said. “They could have swallowed their ego and pride and brought the World-Cup-winning side together, even if it’s one last time.
“I have personally done fundraisers, sent food and water supplies to Dominica, played and helped organise a previous charity game in Trinidad. I was looking forward to this game.”
During last October’s Hurricane relief charity game between Trinidad & Tobago and a West Indies XI, all the senior players were picked despite the Trinidad players having a similarly poor relationship with the local TTCB board.
Bravo has also requested bank details from the board so he can make a financial contribution. “They’ve given the public the false impressions we don’t want to play in the World Cup qualifiers because we went to play for money, but now we’re available for free for a good cause and they don’t pick us,” he said. “Caribbean people need to know the truth. What we will do also is to ask CWI to provide bank account details, so we the players who are not part of the game can still make a contribution towards it.”
The players are understood to have enquired whether they could represent the World XI side, but were told it was not possible.
“It’s a Rest of the World XI, not a World XI,” CWI chief executive Johnny Grave told ESPNcricinfo. “And it’s a fully accredited T20I so counts for stats, hence why Caribbean players can’t play for opposition team. It needs to be a proper game of cricket for people to buy tickets to go and see it at Lord’s.”
However, Grave said he would like to meet the players to discuss their international futures.
“They weren’t invited to take part,” he told Trinidad Express. “Darren Bravo has refused selection on a number of occasions now so we can’t continually go back to him every time we have a match and ask if he wants to be part of it.
“Dwayne hasn’t played for quite a while in any of our sides and said he does not see his future playing international cricket. So we’ve asked him for a meeting to see if that is his firm position.
“The problem we have at the moment is that there is a huge amount of uncertainty where some players say they are not available and then suddenly they are available.
“We can’t have a situation where players pick and choose when they want to play international cricket. In any team you need to have a group of players that are committed to playing and winning cricket matches and then build that cohesion to keep the same group of players together for as long as possible.
“So we will hopefully be meeting with Dwayne, Kieron, Sunil and Darren in June after the IPL to explain to them what the fixtures are between now and the World Cup in England and World T20 in Australia, who we are playing, when we are playing and if they want to be part of it or not.
“What we can do is give them clarity in what it looks like to play for us, We know our tours all the way up to 2023. We’ve got an IPL window and a CPL window. Whether that is enough for them or whether they want to become T20 specialists and travel the world to play franchise cricket, that is kind of what we want to find out from them.”