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Sports minister Anil Roberts yesterday expressed disappointment at the response of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to his call for the Board to reconsider its decision to omit spinner Sunil Narine from the Test team from the series against New Zealand.
Narine was omitted after opting to miss a mandatory training camp and instead represent Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL final on Sunday.
Roberts wrote Board president Dave Cameron asking for the WICB to reconsider the decision.
However, Cameron responded on Monday, stating the Board stood by its processes where players are selected to represent the region in various formats of the game. “A few months ago the Board of Directors, West Indies Players Association and the Territorial Boards agreed a way forward regarding our management of the sport with the aim of getting us back to number one.”
He added: “We arrived at a consensus which is transparent and places the players as priority as we seek to grow the game. We are cognizant of the emotions which run contrary to the process. We ask that other administrations respect our position and when the time is appropriate as we always do, is seek a forum for your valued input. We look forward to your continued support as we seek to further develop West Indies Cricket.”
But Roberts yesterday said he was extremely disappointed at the Board’s wholesale rejection of his arguments. “If the 'country first policy' is to be truly effective, it must take all variables into account, chiefly the athlete's desire and commitment to country, which by all accounts, Sunil Narine has fulfilled. It is passing strange that despite the player's expression of interest and the club's concession to fly him back to the West Indies immediately after the IPL final, the WICB instead forced the player to choose between abandoning his club at their greatest time of need and attending the first few days of a training camp deemed compulsory by mere administrators.”
Roberts said such a decision in his view was inconsiderate, brutish and uncompromising in a situation that warranted more robust negotiation.
“Further, as many fans across the region have noted, while Narine is rejected from the Tests, he is still an option for selection to the T20 series, which means in spite of not being able to reach the training camp by the stipulated date and time, he is partly punished by exclusion from the Test side but included when the more lucrative T20 games begin.”
He said there was a flaw in such logic. “This certainly speaks to the “mens rea” of your policy makers and more importantly, the marketability and broadcast appeal of this internationally revered spin bowler. It is a pity that the harder-to-sell Test matches will not benefit from Narine's demonstrated drawing power as acknowledged by your Board’s ability to bend the policy to suit your pocket.
“In the end, it is the West Indies team that suffers for the lack of a fully-stocked arsenal, it is the athlete that suffers for lack of Test playing experience and it is the fans that will suffer for lack of entertainment from the best spin bowler in the world. It is indeed regrettable that the WICB is satisfied to field a weakened team for such an important re-building home series”.