Adams hopes for end to selection stand-off
Jimmy Adams has admitted West Indies’ selection policy is “not sustainable” and is “not helping our cricket”.
Currently, only those players who have made themselves available for Caribbean regional tournaments are considered for West Indies’ international sides. However, overseas domestic leagues such as the BBL, the PSL and the IPL – all of which overlap in some way with the Caribbean regional competitions – are proving irresistible to many of the most talented players, leading to a situation in Test and ODI cricket, in particular, where their best players are often deemed ineligible for selection.
But Adams, who was appointed as West Indies’ director of cricket about five weeks ago, has confirmed that a review of the policy is underway and intimated that he is keen to adopt a less hard-line approach.
And while the prevailing attitude of West Indies management appears to have been negative towards overseas leagues in recent times, Adams admitted he could see benefits in Caribbean players participating in them, accepting that many of their best had been “battle-hardened” by their experiences.
“The outstanding issue now is player eligibility,” Adams told ESPNcricinfo. “I’m encouraged by the fact that most, if not all parties are in agreement that what is in place now is not sustainable and might not be helping our cricket in the short or long term.
“I’m not the only person who is going to be involved in the decision. But I’m certainly of the view that it [the selection policy] needs reviewing. There’s a process behind that which means it probably won’t happen overnight. The review is ongoing and has started but, if a change of direction is to happen, it won’t be overnight as there is a process that backs that up. But it is being reviewed. A lot of stakeholders in our cricket appreciate now that it does have to be looked at.
“I also think that a lot of our international players – the Chris Gayle generation – will have started under Stanford, but will have developed and become battle-hardened in leagues outside the Caribbean. And if I’m waving a magic wand, I’d like to have the standard in the Caribbean where, if they do play overseas that’s fine – certainly from a financial point of view – but in terms of developing our own T20 to an international standard, then we want our cricket in the Caribbean to be a lot stronger.
“I’d like to have the best players available. I’m not going to stick my neck on the block. It’s a selection panel decision as to who the best players are but, ideally, you always want the best players available for selection.”
Adams knows that he has quite a challenge in front of him in his new role. As if improving results is not tough enough – West Indies did not qualify for this year’s ICC Champions Trophy and currently sit eighth in the Test rankings – he has entered into an environment so toxic it has sometimes seemed UN peacekeepers would be more appropriate than cricket administrators.
But while he accepts he inherits a tough situation – “I may not live to see the promised land” he says at one stage – he is also optimistic that, if the sense of frustration that exists in the Caribbean over the decline in their cricket can be unified, progress can be made.
“I’m pretty realistic about where we’re at,” he said. “Our standards aren’t good enough across the board and it’s reflected in the cricket that we play.
“But we have the raw materials; we have good young players. What we need is a system that can take this raw talent and convert it into an international product that’s world class. We have the potential to achieve a lot more if we can get people singing off the same hymn book going forwards.
“We do have one thing in common across the board: everyone wants to see stronger cricket.
“I sense more and more that more stakeholders appreciate that and are getting to the point where maybe, as an entity, we all need to be more willing to give a little bit to make that happen. I think that has to happen. I don’t think everybody can keep holding onto their territories for much longer given where we are. I want to encourage that. I want to be an agent for that change to happen.” (ESPNCricinfo)