McWatt and ‘Reds’: Pooran can establish himself against Pakistan, but Gayle farewell against Ireland is absurd

“[…] Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) most recent indication of its intention to use next year’s scheduled 16 January T20I against Ireland as a circus-type grand farewell for Chris Gayle is further evidence of its lack of proper governance of our cricket. 

“In its haste to appease the self-appointed ‘Universe Boss’ by granting him his wish for a final T20 International send-off in his homeland Jamaica, the ‘player-oriented’ president Ricky Skerritt-led CWI administration has seemingly not given sufficient consideration to the very dangerous precedent it would set by doing so…”

Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt and veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira discuss West Indies’ white ball challenge in Pakistan and the possibility of a Chris Gayle send-off against Ireland next month:

Photo: West Indies veteran batsman Chris Gayle turned 42 on 21 September 2021.
(Copyright Getty/ESPN)

The recent disastrous tour of Sri Lanka having now been relegated to that part of the brain which stores the most unpleasant memories, supporters of West Indies cricket, ourselves included, will now turn attention to the team’s forthcoming white ball tour of Pakistan—with high hopes for far more pleasant and positive outcomes. 

The West Indies will engage Pakistan in three T20Is and an equal number of ODIs at the Karachi National Stadium from 13 to 22 December. 

KFC Munch Pack

The forthcoming Pakistan series matches should provide ample opportunities for the emergence of some potential stars as well as a consolidation of the reputations of a few more experienced players. Foremost among the latter will be those who were not selected for the 2021 World Cup although they rightfully should have been. 

Kieron Pollard’s withdrawal from the entire tour, due to injury, resulted in the West Indies selectors appointing Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran as stand-in captains for the respective ODI and T20 Squads. They both can and should use the chance to cement their hold on the respective positions through individual and team leadership performances that would be sufficient to merit their future appointments as permanent replacements. 

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard gestures during his team’s first ODI match against Sri Lanka in Colombo on 22 February 2020.
(Copyright AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Pollard’s contributions, both as a player and leader, have been unsatisfactory at best.

The West Indies will also miss Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers and Sheldon Cottrell, all of whom tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Pakistan last week.

The three T20 matches to be held on 13, 14 and 16 December will again provide Pooran with meaningful opportunities to step out of the shadow of Pollard and Dwayne Bravo by establishing his own identity and leadership style as captain.

The Pakistan T20 Series also offers an early chance for players to secure their spots on the West Indies squad for the Australia 2022 ICC T20 World Cup. Darren Bravo and Brandon King will be among the batsmen hoping to take advantage of this, as will seamers Dominic Drakes, Odean Smith and Oshane Thomas and all-rounders Romario Shepherd and Rovman Powell.

Photo: West Indies T20I vice-captain Nicholas Pooran (front, centre) leads his teammates off the field during 2021 T20 World Cup action against Bangladesh.
(Copyright Getty Images/ ICC)

Barring injury or a precipitous loss of form, Akeal Hosein, by virtue of his outstanding 2021 T20 World Cup performances, should now be regarded as a shoo-in to be retained as one of the spinners for the 2022 tournament—although Australia is far more ‘seamer-friendly’ than the venue of the 2021 edition. 

With Fabian Allen still to return from injury, competition for the remaining spinner spots should be intense.

As such, Pooran’s use of Hayden Walsh Jr during the three T20I matches and the latter’s actual performances should make for interesting watching.

So too will the performances of Gudakesh Motie, now finally allowed to perform at the international level—having repeatedly knocked on the selectors’ door with his outstanding regional competition achievements. 

In a similar, albeit far less urgent manner, the three ODIs on 18, 20 and 22 December will also provide opportunities for players to stake their claim towards participation in the 2023 ICC World Cup.

Photo: West Indies opener Shai Hope on the go.

If each and every one of those chosen performs to the very best of his God-given abilities, the outcomes of both the T20 and ODI Series should provide a much-welcomed fillip to West Indies’ cricket fortune and the morale of their fans. 

No less an established and renowned fan as St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves found it necessary to describe West Indies cricket as now being in ‘a state of crisis’.

“On the basis of the recent performances in the T20 World Cup, the abysmally poor outcome we have had in Sri Lanka, and the very mediocre performance here in the Caribbean in recent times, I think it would be fair to say that the cricket is now in a state of crisis,” said Gonsalves. “What we are having here is a full-blown crisis, not a crisis of governance so much but a crisis in the performance which is connected to governance. 

“I see a crisis as a condition in which the principals are innocent of the extent of the condition and have no credible bundle of ideas as to the way forward.”

Photo: CWI president Ricky Skerritt.

In expressing our wholehearted and unreserved agreement with everything that Dr Gonsalves has said, we would also add that Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) most recent indication of its intention to use next year’s scheduled 16 January T20I against Ireland as a circus-type grand farewell for Chris Gayle is further evidence of its lack of proper governance of our cricket. 

In its haste to appease the self-appointed ‘Universe Boss’ by granting him his wish for a final T20 International send-off in his homeland Jamaica, the ‘player-oriented’ president Ricky Skerritt-led CWI administration has seemingly not given sufficient consideration to the very dangerous precedent it would set by doing so. 

To the best of our knowledge, such a demand has never ever been made before by any West Indian player, many of whose accomplishments far exceeded Gayle’s—as great as they have indisputably been. Acquiescing to such a demand for personal glorification will, therefore, blast open the door to similar requests in the future by any player who deems himself worthy of such an acknowledgement.

Granting Gayle his request will also result in his automatic selection to the West Indies team for an official T20I, regardless of his recent form. Rather than automatic selection, Gayle’s performances during the recent World Cup would suggest that being a non-playing mentor to younger players is the only proximity he should henceforth have to any West Indies team. 

Photo: West Indies veteran Chris Gayle (right) hugs Australia batsman Mitchell Marsh after dismissing him for 53 runs during the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup fixture at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on 6 November 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
(Copyright Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

CWI’s controversial announcement of Gayle’s grand circus-style farewell is its most recent farcical act of 2021—a year which can only be described as a continuing comedy of errors! 

So much so as to now remind us of the lyrics from Frank Sinatra’s classic song, Send In The Clowns:

“Don’t you love the farce, my fault I fear

I thought that you’d want what I want, sorry my dear!

Where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns

Don’t worry they’re here!”

Photo: Opener Chris Gayle is applauded on to the field by teammates for West Indies final 2021 T20 World Cup group match against Australia on 6 November.
Gayle scored 15 runs as WI lost by eight wickets.
(Copyright ESPN/ ICC/ Getty)

Editor’s Note: The CWI has not officially selected any West Indies player to face Ireland, including veteran batsman Chris Gayle. However, in an interview on the Mason and Guest Show, CWI CEO Johnny Grave said:

It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game. That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out—especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

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