Home / Volley / Cricket / T2021 W/C: Come again, Mr Selector! One rule for Gayle, one rule for Rutherford?

T2021 W/C: Come again, Mr Selector! One rule for Gayle, one rule for Rutherford?

“[…] On what basis does one exclude a player from meeting an absolutely necessary standard that is required for the rigours of an international tournament, particularly one that is fast-paced, intense and is likely to demand 40 overs of sustained pressure—the kind which this tournament is more than likely to provide?

“Age? Legacy? Pray, tell me, Mr Roger Harper!”

The following guest column on the composition of West Indies 2021 T20 World Cup squad was submitted to Wired868 by veteran sport writer and former Trinidad Guardian sport editor Valentino Singh:

Photo: Veteran West Indies star Chris Gayle will get the chance to show off all his wares at the 2021 T20 World Cup.
He will be 42 on 21 September.

The most significant message coming out of the selection of the West Indies squad for the T20 World Cup in the UAE in a few weeks is the somewhat confusing statement from chief selector Roger Harper that Chris Gayle was exempted from the fitness standard that is required by the other players.

Who does that?

On what basis does one exclude a player from meeting an absolutely necessary standard that is required for the rigours of an international tournament, particularly one that is fast-paced, intense and is likely to demand 40 overs of sustained pressure—the kind which this tournament is more than likely to provide?

Age? Legacy? Pray, tell me, Mr Harper!

Let me make it clear that I am a great fan of the ‘Universe Boss’.

Indeed, he was among my first 11 players in the team which I selected on this very forum prior to the CPL tournament. I went with Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and Gayle at three.

THEN!

Photo: St Lucia Kings wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher (left) celebrates the dismissal of SKNP batsman Chris Gayle during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 4 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

I felt that even if he was not the premium Gayle in the warm-up series against South Africa and Australia, Gayle’s performances with bat and ball and his desire to retire in style, added to what I believed he could contribute in the dressing room, was a solid enough package to include him. 

THEN!

I might have been tempted to still include him in my 18-member party despite all that I saw of him in the CPL, which, to be quite honest, was a poor imitation of the man who earned his reputation by intimidating opponents with his mere presence at the crease.

One last hurrah, you say? Perhaps!

But Harper’s unfortunate declaration about Gayle being exempted from medical and fitness tests may be an admission of his and his selection committee’s expectations of the charismatic Jamaican.

He is there for his off-, not on-field contribution. You don’t need to be fit to inspire!

Photo: West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo (centre) is congratulated by team-mates after capturing a vital wicket in the fourth T20I against South Africa earlier this year.

So why not Jason Holder in the 15? And Gayle in the 18? Surely that makes more overall sense.

His performances in the CPL forced us to come to terms with the brutal reality that Gayle’s on-field presence is no longer a strength but a weakness in the West Indies chain.

Chris Gayle at three? Or Roston Chase?

Without the CPL, we would not have known.

The West Indies habit of giving up too many dot balls in the early part of their innings has time and again been condemned. While many felt that Hetmyer was the player to initiate a change in that approach, the Guyanese’s lack of consistency and pedestrian pace at maturity remain major concerns.

Can Chase fill the role? On the basis of his performances in the CPL, he probably is the best man for that job at the moment, without even taking account of his economical off-spin. That certainly seems more sober thinking than any notion of using Gayle in that critical slot.

Photo: St Lucia Kings batsman Roston Chase (right) hits to leg for six while GAW wicket-keeper Nicholas Pooran looks on during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts on 2 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

None will dispute that Chase has been the outstanding find of the CPL. His inclusion probably closed the door on an unfortunate Holder, whose lacklustre performances in the CPL have not helped his cause.

Still Holder or Gayle? Which of the two adds more value in the 15-man squad? You be the judge!

I get the impression that Harper, Miles Bascombe and coach Phil Simmons were hoping that they did not have to deviate too far from the squad which played against Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia. Hence, except for the two outstanding performers in the CPL, Chase and Ravi Rampaul, no one else caught the eye of the selectors.

Rampaul demonstrated that his campaign in England has inspired a revival of sorts. He is clear in what he is doing and one can only hope he retains his accuracy during the World Cup tournament.

Akeal Hosein has been miserly in the CPL and provided much food for thought. But the presence of Fabian Allen effectively side-lined him.

Photo: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots bowler Fabian Allen (right) celebrates the dismissal of St Lucia Kings batsman Andre Fletcher during CPL action at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on 4 September 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Despite his poor showing in the CPL, the selectors opted to persevere with Hayden Walsh Jr, no doubt because of his outstanding performances in the warm-ups. He will be a more confident and better bowler under Kieron Pollard’s leadership.

The rest of the squad selected itself.

So despite his outstanding start in the CPL, there is no room for Sherfane Rutherford: one rule for him, another for Gayle.

Narine’s fitness was also given as a reason for his omission. Hmmmmmmm. He looked perfectly fit to me during the CPL.

One wonders if fitness will also keep the pair out of the upcoming IPL.

Can this team, my friends, defend its title?

It’s T20 cricket, folks. Unpredictable. On your best day, you can be unbeatable.

Photo: West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo (right) is congratulated by his team-mate Kieron Pollard after he dismissed Sri Lankan cricketer Angelo Mathews during the second and final T20I at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on 11 November 2015.
(Copyright AFP / Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

No doubt on their best day, this West Indies best XI will be difficult to beat. The batting is formidable, the bowling a little less so, but capable enough. As demonstrated in the recent warm-up series, the team’s challenge remains consistency.

Getting past the opening rounds may provide the key. In Dwayne Bravo and Pollard, we have two of the finest minds in the short format of the game; this may yet prove to be what matters most.

A small flutter on the West Indies at, say, 8/1?

Why not!

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2 comments

  1. Why Jason holder a reserve the Carribbean and west Indies best / shepherd and emerging future cricketer to play mostly trinity’s rampaul (well well) selectors really killing wi cricket my my

  2. Roger Harper needs a psychiatric evaluation. Can anyone tell me what were the criteria used to include Chris Gale, Oshane Thomas, and Darren Bravo in the touring party? Further to that, he made the ridiculous and asinine statement, that two players were omitted for fitness purposes. Come on man! Gale needs a golf cart with the assistance of a caddy to get around the field, and you telling me about other players not being fit. Not only that Gale has not contributed anything worthwhile to west Indies cricket in several years. We need to get rid of Roger Harper, Gale and the like. Young players must feel frustrated and disadvantaged when things like these occur.